Under the new leadership of Kevin Ring, Families Against Mandatory Minimums plans to broaden its mission beyond sentencing reform to include prison reform broadly, including everything from in-prison education to mental health, the Wall Street Journal reports. The group hopes such efforts could appeal to tough-on-crime legislators eager to reduce repeat offenses. After Donald Trump won the presidency, FAMM told donors that the prospects in Congress for sentencing reform “certainly have decreased.”
Ring may be well-positioned to make that case because he is well-known to Capitol Hill Republicans. “People can’t say he’s some left-wing crazy,” said Pat Nolan of the American Conservative Union Foundation. In 1998, working for then-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO) Ring pushed a bill imposing harsher sentences on methamphetamine trafficking. he now deeply regrets. He then worked for Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and in 2011 Ring was sentenced to 20 months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme to provide officials perks including vacations, meals and event tickets. In prison, he was struck by how unprepared his fellow inmates were to re-enter society.