Monday, January 31, 2011

Have You Read the News Today?

You should, because there's a lot of good news out there about FAMM and sentencing reform right now:

  • In Indiana, FAMM urged state legislatures to support Republican Governor Mitch Daniels' efforts to use smarter sentencing policies for nonviolent offenders to cut the state budget and reduce the prison population;
  • In the Los Angeles Times, this excellent article applauds the emergence of conservatives in the sentencing reform movement, quoting FAMM President Julie Stewart:  "Julie Stewart, founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, even believes that Republicans, with their tough-on-crime credentials, may have a Nixon-in-China cover to push reform further than Democrats. 'There is a safety conservatives have," she said. "And for better or worse, Democrats don't always have that luxury.'"
  • In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick's FAMM-supported sentencing reform package has been getting lots of attention, particularly for proposing reducing the large urban territories covered by drug-free school zone laws:  read about it here and here, in The Republican and the Boston Globe.  FAMM's thoughts:
Barbara J. Dougan, who is Massachusetts project director for the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said that at least 17 states, including Massachusetts, have begun reexamining mandatory drug sentencing laws or have repealed some of them. Studies have shown that such laws tend to unfairly target urban communities and, as a result, minorities who are more likely to live in the city, Dougan said. 
What the governor is proposing in this bill is right in line with the national trend,’’ Dougan said. “A lot of this has been a response to states not being able to balance their budgets and having crushing correctional costs that are not needed. When you cast a wide net . . . you get some people who deserve to be in jail for lengthy sentences, but you get far more who do not pose a risk to public safety.’’