Press Release  | 03/11/2002

Court TV film dramatizes sentencing injustices

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Court TV's first feature film tells the story of a woman unjustly caught in the web of mandatory sentencing laws. Though fictionalized, the film will realistically but dramatically reveal how mandatory sentences affect those who are convicted of drug crimes and their families.

FAMM and its efforts against mandatory drug laws will be prominently featured in "Guilt by Association." The production includes a role representing FAMM's president Julie Stewart and scenes from a set representing FAMM's office. Media director Monica Pratt worked closely with writer Alan Hines in developing the Court TV script. Oscar Award-winning actress Mercedes Ruehl will play the role of a woman unjustly sentenced to prison for her role in a drug crime. Ruehl earned an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as Jeff Bridges' girlfriend in Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King," and a Tony for her performance as Aunt Bella in Neil Simons' "Lost in Yonkers." She has played the jealous Mafia wife in "Married to the Mob," Tom Hanks' mother in "Big," and Aunt Bella in the film version of "Lost in Yonkers."

"Mercedes' strong background and enormity of experience bring a depth and passion to this complex role, and we hope this controversial and timely film will cause lawmakers across the U.S. to re-examine their stance and stir the national debate about the future of America's drug policies," said Henry Schleiff, Court TV chairman and CEO.

FAMM agrees. "This sensitive look at mandatory sentencing should bring momentum to the efforts to change mandatory sentencing laws," said FAMM president, Julie Stewart. "Court TV reaches more than 64 million homes, and the film's ability to educate and influence viewers is enormous. We'll be working with Court TV to promote the film and plan extensive follow-up after it is aired."

Court TV, a basic cable network, provides a window on the American system of justice through distinctive programming that entertains and in-forms. It focuses on justice and criminal investigation, broadcasting trials by day and compelling stories of the criminal justice system in the evening. Network subscribers are expected to reach 65 million by early 2002.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to challenge inflexible and excessive penalties required by mandatory sentencing laws. FAMM promotes sentencing policies that give judges the discretion to distinguish between defendants and sentence them according to their role in the offense, seriousness of the offense and potential for rehabilitation. FAMM's 25,000 members include prisoners and their families, attorneys, judges, criminal justice experts and concerned citizens. For more information on FAMM, please visit our website, www.famm.org or email monica [at] famm [dot] org.

WHAT: The premiere of Court TV's feature film, "Guilt by Association," on mandatory sentences and FAMM.

WHERE: Court TV, a basic cable network.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2002 at 9 p.m. EST.

Monica Pratt at (202) 822-6700

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