For Immediate Release

FAMM Hails Elimination of First Mandatory Minimum Since Nixon Administration

WASHINGTON - Moments ago,
the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation to
dramatically reduce the sentencing disparity between federal crack and
powder cocaine sentences and to
repeal the five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack
cocaine. The bill, S. 1789, already won unanimous approval from the
Senate in March and now goes to the White House for President Obama’s
certain signature. Its passage marks the first time
that Congress has repealed a mandatory minimum drug sentence since the
Nixon administration. 

“Members of
both parties deserve enormous credit for moving beyond the politics of
fear and simply doing the right thing,” said Julie Stewart, founder and
President of FAMM. “For those of us who have
been pushing for reform for nearly 20 years, today’s vote is
phenomenal. To see members of Congress come together on such a
historically partisan issue like this during an election year is
100-to-1 disparity was an ugly stain on the criminal justice system,”
Stewart continued. “Nobody will mourn its passing – least of all, the
thousands of individuals and families FAMM has worked
with over the past 20 years that have been directly impacted.
“I am
hopeful that the forces of reason and compassion that carried the day
today will prevail again soon to apply the new law retroactively to help
those already in prison for crack cocaine offenses,”
Stewart concluded.   
 While S.
1789 will not eliminate the mandatory minimum for trafficking crack
cocaine, it will substantially reduce racial disparity in cocaine
sentencing.  The infamous 100-to-1 sentencing ratio will
be reduced to 18 to 1.  Moving forward, 28 grams of crack cocaine will
trigger a five-year prison sentence and 280 grams of crack will trigger a
10-year sentence.   Once enacted, the law could affect an estimated
3,000 cases annually, reducing sentences by
an average of about two years and saving an estimated $42 million over
five years. The bill does not provide any relief for people in prison
serving crack cocaine sentences because it does not provide for
retroactivity. The bill also provides for enhanced
sentences for drug offenses involving vulnerable victims, violence and
other aggravating factors.
For more
detailed information about the history of the federal crack disparity
and the changes that will result for S. 1789, go to the following link
at FAMM’s web site:

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Families Against Mandatory Minimums is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supporting fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety.  For more information on FAMM, visit or contact Monica Pratt Raffanel at

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