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Given that their name is essentially their mission statement, it should come as little surprise that the organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums(FAMM) is approving of California’s recent passage of Proposition 47, a law which reduced penalties for common drug and theft crimes.
Founded in 1991 by Julie Stewart, FAMM has been fighting for the reform of sentencing laws for over two decades. Stewart’s activism was inspired by her brother’s arrest and incarceration for five years, as there was a mandatory minimum sentence because he was growing cannabis. Since then, FAMM has grown to be a powerful voice for the reform of the criminal justice’s sentencing system. For a good part of that time, their activism was a fringe effort; now the ridiculousness of mandatory minimums has infiltrated mainstream media and thus, the perception of the average American.
FAMM has good reason to be excited about Proposition 47 passing by a 58.46% majority. It’s an indicator that culture is changing, and the practical benefits to those incarcerated in California for minor, non-violent offenses can not be overstates. In addition to reducing common drug and theft crimes in California from potential felonies to misdemeanors, it allows those already serving sentences for crimes reduced to misdemeanors by the proposition to petition for a new sentence, even if that inmate has had “three strikes.” It is important to note that those who have also been convicted of violent offenses can still be charged with felonies for those crimes that were re-categorized as misdemeanors.
There is more than one way to solve any problem. The crushing injustice of mandatory minimum sentences intended to enforce drug prohibition has done nothing to deter minor crime; it has served only to criminalize and thus marginalize a substantial portion of the citizenry. By fighting back and demanding common-sense sentencing reform, Families Against Mandatory Minimums is helping to create a more just society and dismantle the machinery of criminal prohibition. Based on the growing public support for sentencing reform, their many years of activism are beginning to manifest culturally. Readers can follow Families Against Mandatory Minimums on Facebook here for regular updates on their many efforts across the country.
For previous Ladybud Magazine articles about sentencing reform, click here.
Photo Credit: Antonio de Bellis under public domain via Wikimedia Commons