Julie Stewart President, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)

Julie Stewart is the president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a national organization of concerned citizens working to change mandatory sentencing laws. Ms. Stewart started FAMM in March of 1991 after her brother was sentenced to five years in federal prison for growing marijuana. Ms. Stewart attended Mills College in Oakland, California, graduating summa cum laude in 1988 with a BA in International Relations. After moving to Washington, D.C. in 1988, she worked at the Cato Institute for three years as the director of public affairs. Ms. Stewart has discussed mandatory minimum sentences on many national television shows including the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, ABC News, CBS News, CNN News, NBC News, MTV, and on numerous radio and local television programs throughout the country. She has also testified before Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission about mandatory sentences and prison overcrowding. Ms. Stewart is the recipient of many awards including, the Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, the Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Leadership for a Changing World award from the Ford Foundation, and the Citizen Activist Award from the Gleitsman Foundation. In the past 20 years, FAMM’s work directly contributed to fairer sentences for an estimated 120,000 drug defendants nationwide and paved the way for a shift away from mandatory sentencing policies, especially at the state level. FAMM’s legislative successes include: changes to federal crack cocaine, LSD and marijuana sentencing policies; restoration of judicial discretion in certain federal drug cases; an amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses, which was applied retroactively to give 20,000 prisoners eligibility for sentence reductions; and repeal of all drug mandatory minimum sentences in Michigan, which was also made retroactive to apply to those prisoners formerly serving life sentences.