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Update: Mandatory Minimum Sentences Weaken in New Jersey February 5, 2010

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

The following is from Deborah Fleischaker, FAMM State Legislative Affairs Director:

Another one bites the dust…!  That was the refrain going through my head last month as I sat in the gallery of the New Jersey Senate and one senator after another stood up and voted to weaken the drug-free school zone law.

Then yesterday, with the sweep of his pen, Governor Jon Corzine gave it the final push:  The mandatory sentence for a drug crime committed in a drug-free school zone is no longer mandatory!

Now, courts will decide whether the mandatory sentence should be applied based on the facts of the case.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, it should be but until yesterday over 3,000 people a year were sentenced to extra prison time — mandatory minimums —  largely because of where they live.

One of the bill sponsors called this “geographic discrimination at its most basic,” explaining that it created two different sentences for the same drug crime, depending on where the individual lived.  Well, not any longer.

FAMM pursued this victory for six years so it is especially sweet.  We thank all the families, and prisoners, and advocates, and legislators who hung in there with us, fighting for justice.

For all the details about this historic victory, visit www.famm.org.



1. Vicky - February 22, 2010

Well in case anyone doesn’t know- there were 2 new pecedents set by the Supreme Court of Oregon last Sept or Oct. Ther were 2 cases that won their appeals. So if we want to work on appeals for our family members through the courts we have those 2 precedents. I think they decided that due to the Oregon Constitution’s stipulation that “the punishment cannot be disproportionate to the crime” these cases were appealed and won. We can use those,-we can read the text of Measure 11 and we can read the Oregon Constitution- which isn’t as long as some states’ constitutions. If any of you feel like your loved one’s rights were violated you can also look for the wording in the state constitution that shows rights were violated. I have been going to school and workin toweards trying to help my own son and this is the route I am taking. It may be a lot of work but it is the only way I see that I can do anything-because otherwise we seem to be powerlesss against this harmful law. There is hope – in that those are some of the things we can do to advocate for our kids and familly nmembers. I will advocate against Measure 11 until the day I die. I have worked with kids with behavioral issues and I am really concerned about this.

2. Terri - June 6, 2010

my son is a first time offender but is being railroaded into posible sentence of 30 years for touching an 11 year old in private parts. This is the plea bargain he is being offered and we wonder if he should seek other court appointed assistance or trial. We have no money to pay for a good lawyer who will actually defend him. Does this seem normal jail time for this? We want to fight it, but are unsure as to how and whether it could make things worse.

3. Prestin - August 20, 2010

I want to thank everybody who is working against measure 11. I am sitting at Hillcrest Y.C.F right now. I was sent here for robbery charges I committed in 2004 at the age of 16. I am now one month shy of 23 years old. I have earned a high school diploma, an Associate degree and I am now working on my Bachelors. I have been locked up for a total of 73 months, while a co-defendant of mine was let out after only doing three years because he was only 14 years of age. Apparently there is a huge difference between 14 and 16 year olds. By the way I am working on a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. I am not happy with how Oregon treats the youth of the state. They are more concerned about staffing facilities with more guards than they are schools with more teachers and learning materials. Again thank you to everybody who is working to change measure 11.