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Families Against Mandatory Minimums

FAMM is a national, grassroots organization of the friends and family members of prisoners serving "mandatory minimum" sentences. In the 1980's, as part of the "war on drugs" the U.S. congress and many state legislatures passed laws mandating minimum sentences for many types of offenses, most but not all were drug offenses. The results were harsh sentences for even the most minimal drugs offenses. Mandatory minimums removed the discretion judges previously had in imposing sentences. Instead, this discretion was shifted to the prosecutor who, by choosing the charges to indict on and prosecute was, in essence, choosing the sentence as well. This resulted in many injustices such as defendants who choose to inform on their co-conspirators receiving lesser sentences than their underlings.

FAMM was formed to educate the public and lobby congress about changing mandatory minimum sentencing. They have rapidly grown and now have chapters in 34 states. Aside from large amounts of information on this subject they also publish an excellent bi-monthly newsletter called FammGram that is filled with information on sentencing laws, lobbying and the federal prison system.

The most important thing about FAMM is that it is the organized effort of prisoners, their friends and families. Mandatory minimums are a harsh injustice which victimizes those too poor to get good lawyers, those who won't inform on their associates, or who simply don't have anything the government wants. The effort to educate the public on this issue also serves to generate discussion on the wider issue of crime and punishment. This is a discussion from which all too often prisoners and their families, the most affected parties, are completely cut out of.

FAMM is a non profit, non partisan organization, any donations are tax deductible and go to a good cause. PLN strongly supports FAMM and urges our readers to do likewise. For more information write: FAMM, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. Suite 200, South, Washington D.C. 20004. (202) 457-5790 (no collect calls).

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