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MEDIA ADVISORY: Why is Congress Afraid of Demaryius Thomas’s Mom?

Categories: Newsroom, Press Release

Jessica Breslin, FAMM
202-822-6700
jbreslin@famm.org

Why is Congress Afraid of Demaryius Thomas’s Mom?

Last week, Katina Smith finally got to see her son, Denver Broncos’ star receiver Demaryius Thomas, play football in person. In federal prison since 2000 for drug trafficking, Ms. Smith was able to attend the game only because President Obama agreed to commute her 24-year prison sentence last July. (ESPN chronicles her story here.)

There has been a great deal of attention on this story and promises to be even more as the Super Bowl approaches. But Demaryius’s mother’s story is just the tip of the iceberg. Sentencing and presidential clemency experts at Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) are available to put this story in proper context and to help the media and public explore broader questions, such as:

  • Why Ms. Smith’s original sentence was a massive injustice the moment it was handed down;
  • Why Ms. Smith was punished more harshly for going to trial and not providing information about her mother’s role in the offense;
  • How her sentence was driven by ill-conceived and unjust federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws;
  • How those sentencing laws were the unfortunate legacy left by the death of basketball superstar Len Bias;
  • How congressional inaction on sentencing reform has left President Obama’s clemency authority the only option for federal prisoners serving lengthy sentences for nonviolent crimes; and
  • Whether sentencing reform pending in Congress would help others, like Ms. Smith, who are serving disproportionate sentences.

For 25 years, FAMM has advocated for sensible and smart sentencing reforms that protect public safety and provide humane, individualized punishment to federal and state offenders. FAMM works with prisoners, affected family members, legal experts, and law enforcement to implement safe and fair changes to our justice system.

FAMM has also championed Presidential clemency for nearly two decades, most recently as a founding member of Clemency Project 2014. CP2014 is a working group composed of volunteer lawyers and advocates providing assistance to federal prisoners filing for commutations who would have received a shorter sentence had they been sentenced today. Over 33,000 prisoners have applied for representation from CP2014.

To be put in touch with one of the many sentencing experts at FAMM, please contact Jessica Breslin at (202) 822-6700 or at jbreslin@famm.org.

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