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FAMM Applauds Senator Jim Webb’s Bipartisan Bill to Overhaul America’s Criminal Justice System March 31, 2009

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) today expressed its support for legislation introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) and a bipartisan group of his colleagues to establish a commission to examine the nation’s criminal justice system. The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 will charge the blue-ribbon commission to undertake an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the entire criminal justice system and offer concrete recommendations for reform.

Mary Price, vice president and general counsel of FAMM, issued the following statement in response to today’s bill introduction:

"We commend Sen. Webb and his colleagues for taking this important step.  We believe the commission will find that any comprehensive reform of our criminal justice system must include eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing laws. These laws take authority away from courts which the American people believe are better suited to make individualized sentencing decisions. Today’s one-size-fits-all mandatory sentencing laws have filled the prisons with low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who are serving sentences that do not fit their crimes. We can do much better, and Senator Webb’s proposal is a step in the right direction."

A 2008 FAMM poll found widespread support for ending mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenses and that Americans will support lawmakers who feel the same way.

  • Fully 78 percent of Americans (nearly eight in 10) agree that courts – not Congress – should determine an individual’s prison sentence.
  • Six in 10 (59 percent) oppose mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders.
  • A majority of Americans (57 percent) polled said they would likely vote for a candidate for Congress who would eliminate all mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes.
The poll bolsters the findings of FAMM’s comprehensive report, Correcting Course: Lessons from the 1970 Repeal of Mandatory Minimums , which describes how Congress created mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug offenders in 1951 and repealed them in 1970 because the laws failed to stop drug abuse, addiction and trafficking.  Congress repealed mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses in 1970 – and not one lawmaker who voted for repeal was defeated at the polls for that vote.  The full report can be found online at http://www.famm.org/NewsandInformation/Publications.aspx .



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