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April 14, 2005 - Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)

Federal Legislative Alert

New Bill Pushes For More, Tougher Mandatory Minimum Sentences - Action Needed To Stop Disastrous Sentencing Bill From Advancing

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H.R. 1528, the new version of "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2004," by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), was passed by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on April 12 and FAMM expects the full House Judiciary Committee to vote on it as early as next week (April 18 - 22, 2005). If this bill becomes law, it will have a disastrous effect on the federal sentencing system. We must act now to stop H.R. 1528.


If you live in a House Judiciary Committee member's district please take action now by contacting your lawmaker. Click the link above. It may ask you to enter your address to make sure you live in a House Judiciary Committee member's district. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not live in one of the House Judiciary committee member's districts, you will see a message that says "Office is currently vacant." This means your federal representative is not on the committee.

If you do not live in these districts, FAMM still needs your help in the coming days to fight this terrible sentencing bill. FAMM will send an "ACT NOW" e-mail when the time is right to contact other representatives. Why wait? Because the bill has not yet reached most members of the House of Representatives; if you contact them now about it, they won't know what you are talking about. But as early as next week, the bill could be headed for a full House vote. Use this time to get ready to act!


Among other things, it:

  • Makes the federal sentencing guidelines a system of mandatory minimum sentences through a "Booker-fix" provision.
    Creates new mandatory minimums that further erode judicial discretion.
    Eliminates the safety valve for low-level drug offenders.
    Makes virtually every drug crime committed in urban areas subject to "drug free zone" penalties that carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.
    Punishes defendants for the "relevant conduct" of co-conspirators that occurred BEFORE the defendant joined the conspiracy.

As written, H.R. 1528 would:

  • Effectively make the federal sentencing guidelines a system of mandatory minimum sentences through a "Booker-fix" provision. This provision forbids judges from departing below the guideline sentence in all but a few cases.
  • Make the sale of any quantity of any controlled substance (including anything greater than five grams of marijuana) by a person older than 21 to a person younger than 18 subject to a ten-year federal mandatory minimum sentence.
  • Create a new three-year mandatory minimum for parents who witness or learn about drug trafficking activities, targeting or even near their children, if they do not report it to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.
  • Create a new 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for any parent committing a drug trafficking crime in or near the presence of their minor child.
  • Mandate life in prison for persons 21 years or older convicted a second time of distributing drugs to a person under 18 or convicted a first time after a felony drug conviction has become final.
  • Increase to five years the federal mandatory minimum sentence for the sale of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, college, public library, drug treatment facility (or any place where drug treatment, including classes, are held), or private or public daycare facilities - in short, almost anywhere in cities across the U.S.
  • Eliminate the federal "safety valve," granting it only when the government certifies that the defendant pled guilty to the most serious readily provable offense (the one that carries the longest sentence), and has "done everything possible to assist substantially in the investigation and prosecution of another person," and would prohibit the federal "safety-valve" in cases where drugs were distributed or possessed near a person under 18, where the defendant delayed his or her efforts to provide substantial assistance to the government, or provided false, misleading or incomplete information.


For these reasons, FAMM opposes H.R. 1528. We need FAMM members to ACT NOW to stop this harmful bill. Rep. Sensenbrenner is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and therefore controls its agenda. It is imperative that FAMM members who live in the House Judiciary Committee member's districts call, write and meet with your federal representatives as soon as possible.

Please forward this message to your friends and neighbors who have e-mail. Print and distribute copies of this alert to those who don't. For more information, visit

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