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FAMM Applauds Senator Jim Webb's Bipartisan Bill to Overhaul America's Criminal Justice System

March 26, 2009
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, (202) 621-5044,

FAMM Applauds Senator Jim Webb's Bipartisan Bill to Overhaul America's
Criminal Justice System

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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

- 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drug offenders in 1951 and repealed them in 1970 because the laws failed to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 Congress repealed mandatory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

Families Against Mandatory Minimums 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 or contact Monica Pratt Raffanel at

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