Confirmed victory

On April 30, the Sentencing Commission published what it calls an Issue for Comment on whether and how to make the crack guideline reduction apply so that people serving sentences for crack cocaine might benefit with the shorter sentence.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) needs your help to make sure the Commission hears loud and clear that the guideline reductions must be made retroactive!


We know that your voices can make a difference. Five years ago, when the Commission last considered voting to make a change to the crack guideline retroactive, FAMM members unleashed an avalanche of letters and other expressions of support that helped win the day. We can do it again.

The Commission counts signatures on a petition the same as the letters it receives. Please sign this petition today.

If you have already written  the Commission about retroactivity in the past few months, you do not need to write again. They have your letter. Please share this petition with at least ten friends, family and members of your community. Thank you for helping in any way you can.

Letter to
Commissioners, U.S. Sentencing Commission
I am writing to ask you to make the new crack cocaine guideline retroactive. As you know, the penalties imposed on crack offenders over the past 24 years were very harsh and disproportionate to the penalties for other drug offenses, especially offenses involving powder cocaine. Last year, the Commission played a leading role in convincing Congress to pass the Fair Sentencing Act, legislation that reduced the disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Now that the sentencing guidelines for crack have also been reduced, the Commission should apply that reduction to people who were sentenced and are imprisoned under the old guideline. It would be fundamentally unfair to ignore those whose unjust sentences gave rise to passage of the Fair Sentencing Act and the guideline amendment that followed.

The Commission should also apply retroactivity as it has with past guidelines, in a straightforward way, without additional restrictions. The Commission made changes to the LSD guideline retroactive in 1993 without conditions. Two years later, it made a reduction to the marijuana guideline retroactive without limitation. In 2007, the Commission lowered crack cocaine sentences somewhat and approved retroactivity. At that time it responded to concerns voiced by the Bush Justice Department and law enforcement groups by implementing new rules to protect public safety. They instructed judges to examine the prisoner’s conduct, including while in prison, to assess the impact of early release on community security. This additional safeguard helps ensure that no dangerous offenders will be released early. Any additional restrictions on who could be eligible for retroactivity would only perpetuate the sense of unfairness surrounding crack sentences and undo the good will your work fostered.

I strongly urge the Commission to apply its recent crack guideline amendments retroactively and to reject any new restrictions that will severely limit its reach. Judges have sufficient information and tools to ensure that only those who should benefit from the reduction will receive it.

Thank you very much for insuring that justice is served.