Other Group

Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a left-of-center lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C. that campaigns against mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which require judges or juries to impose a sentence of a given severity or higher after convicting an individual of a given crime. The organization has been active on both the state and federal level. [1]

The organization was founded in 1991 by Julie Stewart, a public relations specialist for the libertarian Cato Institute, following her brother’s five-year sentence for marijuana related offenses. In 2017, Stewart stepped down as president and was replaced by former lobbyist Kevin Ring, who had been convicted and sentenced to federal prison for his role in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. Outside of its political lobbying activities, FAMM also participates in individual cases directly through petitions for executive clemency and by helping to file appeals for convicted criminals. [2]

History and Goals

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) was founded following the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of Julie Stewart’s brother on charges of growing marijuana. [3] Although the trial judge stated that he believed the sentence was unfair, he was forced by statute to sentence Stewart’s brother to five years in prison. Stewart, then a public relations specialist working for the libertarian Cato Institute, left CATO and founded FAMM.

By 1994, FAMM had grown in reputation. That year, it was noted in an article published in The Atlantic as an organization opposed to the increasingly tough sentences imposed on marijuana offenders by the Clinton administration through the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill. [4] [5] Nevertheless, FAMM claims partial credit for more lenient elements of the 1994 crime bill, especially its “safety valve” measures designed to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders. [6]

In 2010, FAMM campaigned on behalf of the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the ratio of crack considered to be equivalent to powder cocaine for sentencing from a 1:100 to 1:18 weight ratio. [7] [8]

In 2017, Stewart stepped back as leader of FAMM and was replaced as president by former lobbyist Kevin Ring. [9] Ring had been convicted and sentenced in 2011 on charges related to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. [10] He served 15 months in prison following the failure of his appeal attempts in 2013 and was released to home detention in 2015, when he started working for FAMM. [11] Stewart has retained her role as chair of the FAMM board. [12]

Since its foundation, FAMM has expanded its activities outside of lobbying for the end of mandatory minimums in general to include directly lobbying for sentence reductions for individuals sentenced under mandatory minimum laws. The organization frequently petitions the U.S. Supreme Court in such cases. [13]

FAMM has often petitioned for executive clemency as well. In early 2021, the organization praised then-President Donald Trump over his decision to pardon a number of federal prisoners whose cases FAMM had highlighted. [14] Despite the issuance of these pardons, the organization was nevertheless partly critical of the Trump administration, as they claimed that the administration had failed to make the pardon process transparent enough. [15]

Financial Information

Families Against Mandatory Minimums reported a total revenue of $4,010,890 in 2018. Of that amount, $19,388 was derived from investment activity, with the remainder coming directly from grants and donations. [16]

Funding sources include a broad variety of ideologically diverse foundations, as well as corporations and individual donors. Between 2016 and 2017 the organization received $25,500 from the right-of-center Charles Koch Foundation. [17] [18] From 2013 to 2014, the organization received grants totaling $200,000 from the left-of-center Ford Foundation. [19] [20] FAMM has also accepted donations from corporate foundations, including the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. [21] [22]

Prominent Individuals

Julie Stewart is the founder of FAMM. She founded the organization after her brother was sentenced to five years in prison for federal marijuana offences. [23] Stewart worked as president of the organization from its foundation in 1991 until 2017 when she stepped down as president and was replaced by former lobbyist Kevin Ring. [24]

Kevin Ring currently works as the president of FAMM. A former lobbyist, Ring was convicted of crimes related to the Jack Abramoff scandal. He started working for FAMM in 2015 while still serving part of his sentence related to his Abramoff conviction under home supervision. [25] He was appointed president of the organization in 2017. [26]

Rabiah Burks is FAMM’s vice president of communications. [27] She previously worked for the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section as a senior public relations specialist. [28]

References

  1. FAMM.  “U.S. Supreme Court.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/our-work/u-s-supreme-court/. ^
  2. Pavlo, Walter. “Kevin Ring, Abramoff Understudy, Sentenced to 20 Months In Prison.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, October 26, 2011. https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2011/10/26/kevin-ring-abramoff-understudy-sentenced-to-20-months-in-prison/?sh=4ed58e966127. ^
  3. FAMM. “FAMM’s History and Accomplishments.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/famms-history/. ^
  4. Schlosser, Eric. “Marijuana and the Law.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, September 1, 1994. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1994/09/marijuana-and-the-law/308958/. ^
  5. Lopez, German. “The Controversial 1994 Crime Law That Joe Biden Helped Write, Explained.” Vox. Vox, June 20, 2019. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/20/18677998/joe-biden-1994-crime-bill-law-mass-incarceration. ^
  6. FAMM. “FAMM’s History and Accomplishments.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/famms-history/. ^
  7. govinfo. Accessed February 12, 2021. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-111publ220/html/PLAW-111publ220.htm. ^
  8. FAMM. “FAMM’s History and Accomplishments.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/famms-history/. ^
  9. Pavlo, Walter. “Families Against Mandatory Minimums Gets New President: Former Lobbyist Kevin Ring.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, January 12, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2017/01/12/families-against-mandatory-minimums-gets-new-pres-former-lobbyist-kevin-ring/?sh=61366655617b. ^
  10. Pavlo, Walter. “Kevin Ring, Abramoff Understudy, Sentenced to 20 Months In Prison.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, October 26, 2011. https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2011/10/26/kevin-ring-abramoff-understudy-sentenced-to-20-months-in-prison/?sh=4ed58e966127. ^
  11. AP. “Abramoff Co-Conspirator Kevin Ring Released to Halfway House after 15 Months in Prison.” Fox News. FOX News Network, April 27, 2015. https://www.foxnews.com/us/abramoff-co-conspirator-kevin-ring-released-to-halfway-house-after-15-months-in-prison. ^
  12. FAMM. “Families Against Mandatory Minimums Gets New President: Former Lobbyist Kevin Ring.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, January 12, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2017/01/12/families-against-mandatory-minimums-gets-new-pres-former-lobbyist-kevin-ring/?sh=61366655617b. ^
  13. FAMM.  “U.S. Supreme Court.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/our-work/u-s-supreme-court/. ^
  14. Ring, Kevin. “FAMM Statement on President Trump’s Pardons and Commutations Today.” FAMM, January 20, 2021. https://famm.org/famm-statement-on-president-trumps-pardons-and-commutations-today/. ^
  15. Rosalind Helderman, David Fahrenthold. “In One of His Final Acts, Trump Showered Clemency on People with Connections to Him and His Allies.” The Washington Post. WP Company, January 21, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-pardons/2021/01/20/dfc79216-5b49-11eb-8bcf-3877871c819d_story.html. ^
  16. Families Against Mandatory Minimums, IRS 990, 2018 ^
  17. Charles Koch Foundation, IRS 990, 2016 ^
  18. Charles Koch Foundation IRS 990, 2017 ^
  19. Ford Foundation, IRS 990, 2013 ^
  20. Ford Foundation, IRS 990, 2014 ^
  21. JP Morgan Chase Foundation, IRS 990, 2017 ^
  22. Bank of America Charitable Foundation, IRS 990, 2018 ^
  23. FAMM. “FAMM’s History and Accomplishments.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/famms-history/. ^
  24. FAMM. “FAMM’s History and Accomplishments.” Accessed February 12, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/famms-history/. ^
  25. AP. “Abramoff Co-Conspirator Kevin Ring Released to Halfway House after 15 Months in Prison.” Fox News. FOX News Network, April 27, 2015. https://www.foxnews.com/us/abramoff-co-conspirator-kevin-ring-released-to-halfway-house-after-15-months-in-prison. ^
  26. Pavlo, Walter. “Families Against Mandatory Minimums Gets New President: Former Lobbyist Kevin Ring.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, January 12, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2017/01/12/families-against-mandatory-minimums-gets-new-pres-former-lobbyist-kevin-ring/?sh=61366655617b. ^
  27. “Staff & Board.” FAMM. Accessed February 22, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/staff-board/. ^
  28. “Staff & Board.” FAMM. Accessed February 22, 2021. https://famm.org/about-us/staff-board/. ^
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