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Young Offenders Moving Forward March 15, 2013

Posted by FairSentencing in : Effects of Measure 11 , add a comment

The following this link is an article that a college professor co-wrote with two juvenile lifers:  http://thesocietypages.org/specials/juvenile-lifers-learning-to-lead/

These offenders recognize the severe results of their actions and understand the huge debt they owe society.  Read their story and learn about life through their eyes.  A book is coming out later this year, and the photos in the article are from a Tumblr page that is a project of the professor’s Inside-Out classes.  Trevor helped create it in the Tumblr website in 2011 and then worked quite a bit on the submissions from last quarter.



Harsh Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Law Example December 11, 2012

Posted by FairSentencing in : Effects of Measure 11 , 1 comment so far

Here is an update from Julie Stewart:

If the case of Chris Williams does not convince you that mandatory minimum sentencing laws are cruel and stupid, nothing will. Williams operated a marijuana dispensary in Montana after voters in that state legalized the medical use of marijuana in 2004. Federal law still prohibits marijuana distribution, however, and Williams and his partners were indicted by the federal government in 2011 on drug charges.  (The states’ rights issue in this case is huge and very important but for the moment not what I want to tell you about.)

Williams wanted to exercise his constitutional right to a trial because he thought Montana’s law protected his activity. But on September 27, a federal jury convicted Williams not only of drug crimes, but also of four counts of possessing firearms “in furtherance of” those crimes. Williams kept legally registered pistols and shotguns at his marijuana operation. He didn’t use them to hurt anyone. In fact, he never even wielded them. He just had them.

Alas, being convicted of just having guns condemned him to the notorious gun “stacking” mandatory minimum: a five-year mandatory prison sentence for the first gun charge and 25 years in prison for each subsequent offense. Even worse, the law requires that the sentences must be served consecutively, one after the other!

As a result, Chris Williams, who was running a state-authorized marijuana dispensary in Montana, will get at least 80 years in prison when he is sentenced in January. (Five years for the first gun + 25 + 25 + 25 for the other three.)  Killers, kidnappers, and rapists don’t get sentences that long, but the judge who sentences Williams will not be allowed to consider that fact. Or any facts, really, because mandatory minimum sentences blindfold judges to the facts and circumstances of a crime and the defendant.

So when people ask you why you support FAMM, you can recite all kinds of very important statistics and facts about how counterproductive and destructive mandatory minimums are.

Or you can answer them with two words: Chris Williams.

And when they learn about this absurd case, they will get it.  And they’ll want to join you in supporting FAMM so we can kill mandatory minimum sentences like the one Chris Williams is likely to receive.


Another View July 9, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Effects of Measure 11 , 4 comments

Here’s a letter to the editor of The Daily Astorian dated June 12:

It’s so difficult to convey to people what prison is like, and how it affects families ("Debunking myths about Oregon’s Measure 11," The Daily Astorian, June 12).

Until you live through it, the misconceptions abound – everything from the inmates just sitting around watching TV and being fed three good meals a day, with all their health care needs being met, etc., to the idea that prison is a violent, dangerous environment with rapes and gang wars going on.

No, inmates do not sit around watching TV all day, most of us would not eat the food they are served and medical care is minimal at best, but mostly nonexistent. Yes, it can be dangerous, but so is living in the outside world.

Measure 11 takes punishment to a level way beyond any constructive benefit to the inmate or society. Prison is about loss of freedom for an adequate amount of time. To add on a punitive phase, and keep a person behind bars for an extended period of time as Measure 11 allows, serves no constructive purpose whatsoever.

I would say you would be hard pressed to find an ex-felon who could honestly say that their life got back on track because of their extended incarceration under Measure 11.

Debbi Lester
Vancouver, Wash.