Some may not be aware that FAMM has a board of directors. And all of our board members really, deeply, personally care about sentencing reform.
One of them, Jason Flom, is the head of Lava Records, and we can thank him every time we hear Katy Perry, Black Veil Brides, or Jessie J on the radio. But for decades, we've also been thanking Mr. Flom for being a passionate FAMM supporter. This Huffington Post column by Jason explains his interest in and commitment to sentencing reform:
The failure of the Drug War is both clear and tragic. The United States is home to just five percent of the world's population but fully 25 percent of the world's prison population. As former U.S. Senator Jim Webb told me a couple of years ago, "What these numbers would seem to indicate is that either we have the most evil people in the world or else we are doing something very wrong." Clearly we are doing something wrong. We lock up our citizens at five times the rate of the rest of the world even though our crime rates are similar. This mass incarceration epidemic has torn apart countless families, and its impact has been disproportionately severe on minorities, a reality that should offend anyone who cares about civil rights.
I decided a couple of decades ago that I had to get involved. I began working with some of our nation's leading criminal justice reform groups to end the drug war. During this time, I also supported dozens of successful federal and state clemency applications, including that of celebrated musician and composer John Forte. After 20 years of slow progress, I believe we have arrived at a watershed moment.
The moment began last November when the residents of both Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana among adults. For years, drug war proponents dismissed those of us fighting for sensible drug laws as a vocal and permanent minority. No longer. Majorities in both states proved that the American people are tired of failed drug war policies and ready to try a new approach.
We must seize this moment. I'm writing in the hope that you will join me and other industry figures such as Richard Branson, Russell Simmons, Sting, John Legend and Willie Nelson in supporting this cause. We recognize that many of our industry's greatest stars and executives have been involved with drugs, especially in their youth, and could have been sent to prison for 15 years (or longer) like Tony Papa. What would our business look like today had we been deprived of these creative geniuses?
We know that the War on Drugs has failed. Drugs are cheaper and more readily available than they were when this misguided war started some 30 years ago. Even staunch law enforcement allies, such as former federal prosecutor and current Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, have declared the War on Drugs a failure and proposed more cost-effective and humane ways to reduce drug abuse and crime.One way to make the drug war more humane overnight is to give judges freedom to disregard mandatory minimum drug crime sentences when they don't fit the offense or the offender.
We're so grateful for Jason's support and his tireless efforts to raise awareness of the need for reform.
How can you, as Mr. Flom urges, get involved? Start by getting educated. Read our helpful resources on mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Learn how to contact your members of Congress and tell them to change these unproductive sentencing policies. Donate to FAMM's work. Tell a friend about the problem and how we are trying to fix it. And sign up for our emails, so that you can hear it first when legislative reforms are on the move in the 113th Congress.