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Fall FAMM Newsletter Is Available October 28, 2011

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

The Fall FAMM Newsletter has just been released.  There is a link at the bottom of this post.  I wanted to include here the great message by Julie Stewart, FAMM President.

Happy Birthday, FAMM! Who could have imagined two decades ago that my brother’s conviction for growing marijuana would lead to the launch of an organization that would last 20 years! I would never have believed it. I was sure we could “fix” this problem of long mandatory minimum sentences within five years and I would move on to do something else with my life.

Ha! Little did I know how much resistance we would face to the principle of justice that is commonly accepted throughout this country – that the punishment should fit the crime and the offender’s role in the crime. What could be clearer? What could be more American?! Yet, in Congress and state houses everywhere, lawmakers have manipulated that principle to suggest that it means being soft on crime. Being fair is being soft? No, I don’t accept that interpretation. And neither do you. And that’s why FAMM is still here, 20 years later, fighting for the kind of individualized sentencing that everyone deserves.

FAMM’s focus on individualized sentences means we oppose mandatory minimums for all crimes. That’s why you’ll see on pages 8-9 a number of federal bills we’re trying to strip mandatory minimums from. Even if the sentences aren’t long, allowing them to get through reinforces the idea that mandatory minimums are okay and encourages other legislators to propose them. No sentence is acceptable if it prevents a judge from considering all the facts of the case. Take a look at the profiles on page 14 and you’ll see how one-size-fits-all sentencing fails miserably in delivering justice. That’s the message we have to hammer home again and again.

Twenty years ago when I wrote the first FAMM newsletter, I closed it by saying, “Your life is important to us. As the saying goes, ‘the wheels of justice turn very slowly,’ but we are trying to speed them up. You are not alone in this struggle.”

Those words still ring true. Last week I received a thank you note from a federal prisoner who was sentenced in the early 90s to life in prison for a nonviolent crack cocaine offense. After FAMM’s crack victory in 2007, his life sentence was lifted and changed to 30 years. After FAMM’s crack victory this year (see page 7), he is expecting to be released by the end of the year. He ended his letter with these words, “You are the reason I have this life sentence off me now. I am a friend always.” His words went straight to my heart. And while I alone cannot take credit for his imminent freedom, it is profoundly satisfying to know that FAMM – all of us together – have forced the wheels of justice to move faster and prevented this man from living out the rest of his life in prison.

After 20 years of nose to the grindstone, it’s time to pause and celebrate our 20 years of victories (see timeline on page 4). But when the candles are blown out and the cake is eaten, it’s time to get back to work to so we can change the course of thousands more lives.

My very best –
Julie Stewart




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