For Immediate Release

FAMM Celebrates Sentencing Commission Approval of Crack Retroactivity

WASHINGTON - Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) president and founder Julie Stewart celebrated today’s unanimous vote by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make crack guideline reductions retroactive.

 “First, I am thrilled for our members and their families who suffered under a sentencing scheme that Congress admitted was fundamentally flawed,” said Ms. Stewart.

 “I am also grateful to the members of the Sentencing Commission who responded to facts, not fear. The Commission once again has played its rightful role as the agency responsible for developing sound, evidence-based sentencing recommendations. In fact, if Congress had listened to the Commission fifteen long years ago when it first called for crack sentencing reform, today’s vote might not have been necessary,” said Ms. Stewart.

 After noting that today’s vote only affects the portion of a prisoner’s sentence driven by the sentencing guidelines, Ms. Stewart said, “The ball is now in Congress’s court. To finish the job, Congress must now make the mandatory minimum sentence for crack cocaine retroactive.”

 The road to today’s vote began last August when Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, a longtime FAMM priority that reduced from 100:1 to 18:1 the disparity between crack and powder cocaine mandatory minimum sentences. The Sentencing Commission followed suit by reducing its sentencing guideline for crack offenses in accordance with the new law. The Commission’s vote today extends the reduced penalties to the sentencing guidelines portion of crack prisoners’ sentences. An estimated 12, 040 will be eligible to ask the court for reduced sentences. Average sentence reductions are expected to be 37 months.

 Ms. Stewart testified in favor of retroactivity at a Sentencing Commission hearing on June 1. A copy of her testimony, the testimony of FAMM member Natasha Darrington, and a copy of FAMM’s written comments on the retroactivity proposal can be found here http://www.famm.org/FederalSentencing/USSentencingGuidelines/USSentencingGuidelinesUpdates/FederalSentencingGuidelines2011.aspx. More about the impact of today’s vote, including public safety and cost savings, can be found here http://www.famm.org/Repository/Files/2011%20Crack%20Gdln%20Myth%20vs.%20Fact%206.30.11%5B1%5D.pdf

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FAMM is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety. For more information on FAMM, visit www.famm.org or contact Monica Pratt Raffanel at media@famm.org.

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