Families Against Mandatory Minimums – Bills in Congress

The mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws require judges to hand down sentences based on type of drug, quantity of drug, and prior convictions while disallowing a judge to consider culpability, the offender’s actual role, motivation, and other mitigating circumstances.

If mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws haven’t decreased street crime there seems little purpose in the laws.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Department of Justice have both concluded that mandatory sentencing fails to deter crime. Furthermore, mandatory minimums have worsened racial and gender disparities and have contributed greatly toward prison overcrowding. Mandatory minimum sentencing is costly and unjust. Mandatory sentencing does not eliminate sentencing disparities; instead it shifts decision-making authority from judges to prosecutors, who operate without accountability. Mandatory minimums fail to punish high-level dealers. Finally, mandatory sentences are responsible for sending record numbers of women and people of color to prison. ¹

FAMM states their vision as:

FAMM’s vision is a nation in which sentencing is individualized, humane, and sufficient but not greater than necessary to impose just punishment, secure public safety, and support successful rehabilitation and reentry.²

In her introduction of the bill, Maxine Waters said:

“This legislation will refocus federal prosecutorial resources on major drug traffickers and eliminate racial disparities created by the mandatory minimum sentences for powder and crack cocaine. “³

H.R. 1466, the Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009

On March 12, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 1466, the “Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009.’’ The bill would eliminate all mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses; curb federal prosecutions of low-level drug offenders; and allow courts to place offenders on probation or suspend their sentence.

In a speech to Congress, Rep. Waters cited “Correcting Course: Lessons from the 1970 Repeal of Mandatory Minimums,” FAMM’s 2008 report on how Congress first enacted mandatory drug sentences in the 1950s, then repealed them 20 years later because they failed to reduce drug trafficking.


³PDF link:

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3 Responses to Families Against Mandatory Minimums – Bills in Congress

  1. DaddysDarlin says:

    Our prisons are overcrowded with those who in most states would otherwise not be prosecuted, for smoking weed.
    Some are serving life sentences! How can this be? This is our mandatory minimums hard at work.
    I will never understand how we can jail those who smoke a little pot for the rest of their lives, when it is a victimless crime.
    I think as long as you are not hurting anyone, and I have never heard of a pot smoker lying, cheating or stealing to get their so-called drug, there is no crime here. Yet because of mandatory minimums thousands of people are sitting in prison where they don’t belong.

  2. Barbara Skokan says:

    By allowing the prisoner entry into a halfway house, he would then be able to get a job, earn some money, and be able to start fresh upon release.

  3. We have a college educ. son who is serving 15 years!!! Non-violent, no weapons and first arrest!! He was 22 and was also a drug addict who wasn’t thinking clearly. This is so unreasonable. The prisons are so overcrowded and all it is a money-making business. Does it take 15 years to teach a person a lesson when they made the wrong choices? Something has to be done in Congress. Put aways the big drug lords that are bringing the drugs into the US and not the small time drug dealers. Our son had a close family and good upbringing but made the wrong choices. This sentencing guideline must change. This law has been aroung for over 30 years– lets pray that it gets changed. 15 years is more than a DUI who turns around and then kills somebody. Where is the justice? I hate the courts, prisons and the corrupt politicians!!!

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