The umbrella of political organizations run by billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch is unveiling a new program to spur criminal justice reform in conjunction with its annual winter donor meeting.
"Safe Streets and Second Chances" is to be unveiled this weekend in Palm Springs, Calif., when hundreds of donors who contribute to the Koch network gather to talk policy and the 2018 midterms. The program will launch in four states — Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Pennsylvania — and examine ways to shift America's criminal justice system from a focus on punishment to prioritizing rehabilitation, in a bid to reduce recidivism.
Mark V. Holden, senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, is leading the initiative, pursued in conjunction with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime. Criminal justice reform has long been a policy of interest to the Koch brothers, conservative megadonors with a libertarian bent. They argue criminal justice reform will reduce the prison population, saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
“Over 95 percent of people who are incarcerated will eventually be released, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure that these individuals are better when they leave prison than before they went in,” he said. “The vision of 'Safe Streets and Second Chances' is that, rather than waiting until the end of an individual’s sentence, the reentry process should begin on day one."
In addition to the policy discussions set for the Koch conference in the Southern California desert this weekend, the brothers' network of political donors, many active in Republican politics, will gather to hear primers on the upcoming elections. Republican lawmakers are expected to attend, as they do every year.