Governor John Engler ended Michigan's failed experiment with mandatory minimum drug sentences when he signed historic legislation
repealing the laws on December 25.
 ----- Original Message -----
From: "Taoss - Sherry Swiney" <>
To: "PATRICK Crusade" <>
Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2002 12:48 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Re: Mandatory Minimum

Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2002 10:23 AM
Subject: Mandatory Minimum

This comes from Diana, Coordinator of Jefferson County

Thursday, December 27, 2002

LANSING, Mich. - Governor John Engler ended Michigan's failed experiment with mandatory minimum drug sentences when he signed historic legislation repealing the laws on December 25. Public Acts 665, 666 and 670 of 2002 eliminate most of the state's Draconian mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. Judges can now use sentencing guidelines to impose sentences based on a range of factors in each case, rather than solely drug weight, and lifetime probation for the lowest-level offenders has been replaced with a five-year probationary period. Earlier parole is now possible for some prisoners, at the discretion of the parole board.

Laura Sager, executive director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit organization that spearheaded the drive for reform said, "We are very grateful to Governor Engler for his support of this important legislation, which brings a quarter-century of failed sentencing policy to a close. Harsh mandatory minimums, originally intended to target drug "king pins" warehoused many nonviolent, low-level drug offenders at a very high cost to taxpayers. Now judges can use their discretion under sentencing guidelines to more closely fit the punishment to the crime and the offender."

"This change is being closely examined by states across the country as they grapple with the unintended consequences of their own mandatory minimum sentences," said Sager.

"This historic act is also a victory for a grassroots movement for justice," said Sager. "It is the culmination of years of grassroots lobbying efforts by thousands of FAMM members affected by mandatory minimums that were among the harshest in the nation. These families brought the human face of sentencing injustices to lawmakers and convinced member of both parties that change was urgently needed," said Sager.

Rep. Bill McConico (D-Detroit), sponsor of the bills said, "This major step brings fairness back to the judicial system in Michigan. The overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation shows it is not a partisan issue. We were able to unite Republicans, Democrats, prosecutors, judges and families in the common cause of sentencing justice. Now we can reunite families, reallocate resources and allow judges to do their job."

The bills garnered widespread support from organizations as diverse as the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, the Michigan Judges Association, the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals, the Michigan Catholic Conference, Michigan's Children, and the NAACP (Detroit Branch), among many others.

"Michigan's prosecutors recognize that an effective drug policy is a combination of criminal justice strategies, readily available drug treatment programs, incarceration where appropriate, and prevention activities in schools, businesses, and homes," said David Morse, president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. "That is why we support a responsible approach to replacing the mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes with sentences that are appropriate for the crime."

The reforms also had the strong support of former Michigan Republican Governor William G. Milliken, who called signing mandatory minimum drug sentences into law in 1978 "the worst mistake of my career" and campaigned for their repeal.

In 1998, Families Against Mandatory Minimums led a successful drive to relax the "650 Lifer Law," the toughest drug law in the nation. That law mandated life without parole for anyone convicted of delivery or conspiracy to deliver 650 grams or more of heroin or cocaine.

Analysis of the Michigan sentencing reform laws are posted at If you are a reporter and would like to speak to Laura Sager, FAMM executive director, or other groups supporting the reforms, please contact Monica Pratt, FAMM director of communications, at (202) 822-6700 or
FAMM also has case profiles on Michigan prisoners.