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May 12, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FAMM Statement on DOJ Charging Memo
WASHINGTON – FAMM is gravely disappointed with the new charging memo issued today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While we appreciate the attorney general’s commitment to reducing crime and combating dangerous opioid abuse, we think his strategy is misguided, unsupported by evidence, and likely to do more harm than good. Indeed, the drug epidemic challenging our country today is a devastating indictment of the one-size-fits-all punishment regime that General Sessions seeks to expand. His charging memo throws decades of improved techniques and technologies out of the window in favor of a failed approach.
We know how this story ends. At the beginning, we are told that mandatory minimums will be reserved for the “worst of the worst”—cartel leaders and kingpins, and violent gang leaders. But then we will watch prosecutors demand and get mandatory life sentences for people like Evans Ray and 15-year sentences for first-time offenders suffering from addiction like Mandy Martinson. Even under the Obama administration’s Smart-on-Crime initiative, federal prosecutors secured a 10-year mandatory sentence for Robyn Hamilton, a young mother of two, whose case was called “the poster child” for mandatory minimum sentencing reform.
The simple fact is that 93 percent of individuals who receive mandatory minimum sentences played no leadership role in their offense. Crafted purportedly for sharks, mandatory minimums catch lots of minnows.
Requiring more low and mid-level offenders to serve unnecessarily lengthy prison terms will impose a larger burden on taxpayers. Greater still will be the opportunity costs. To hold more low-risk offenders in federal prison, how many fewer murders will go unsolved? How many fewer prosecutors and police will be hired? How many more rape kits will go untested? How many correctional officers will be harmed because prisons are overcrowded? The tradeoffs required by the attorney general’s will make families and communities less safe.
The new charging memo will also have an enormous and negative impact on the families whose loved ones are forced to serve disproportionately lengthy prison sentences. FAMM represents those families. We know the consequences. More kids will grow up without a parent, causing a host of economic, educational, and social challenges. Families will struggle to stay together. Economic self-sufficiency will become much more difficult to achieve.
This puts the ball back in Congress’s court. They have to change the law and eliminate mandatory minimum sentences.
FAMM, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, promotes commonsense sentencing and prison policies that increase public safety.