The Common Good
March-April 2002

The Families That Roared

by Rose Marie Berger, Jodi Hochstedler | March-April 2002

Did you see the recent Essence article about Dorothy Gaines? Or the Mademoiselle
piece on Kellie Mann? Both women were convicted of minor nonviolent drug offenses.

Did you see the recent Essence article about Dorothy Gaines? Or the Mademoiselle piece on Kellie Mann? Both women were convicted of minor nonviolent drug offenses. Both were sentenced, under mandatory minimum laws, to more than 10 years in prison—no parole, no time off for good behavior. Both are key figures in the growing movement led by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a national organization working to repeal federal and state mandatory sentencing laws that remove judicial discretion. FAMM does not argue that crime should go unpunished, but that the punishment should fit the crime.

In 1997, FAMM worked with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to publish an explosive investigative report on how federal drug laws affect women. They found that many women are serving prison sentences of 10 to 20 years or more; longer than the men who organize, lead, or supply drug operations. The more culpable male offenders are encouraged to cut deals based on their information and then serve shorter sentences.

Both Dorothy Gaines and Kellie Mann were released by presidential pardon. Since 1987, sentencing disparities have increased the number of women in U.S. prisons fourfold. Women drug offenders make up two-thirds of all female inmates.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)