Criminal justice system in America set for a reform?
Could the year 2015 throw the spotlight on the American criminal justice system? Possibly, if Charles Koch, CEO and chairman of Koch Industries, has his way. The billionaire chairman and mega donor plans to focus on bringing about a reform in the criminal justice system in the coming year. America also needs tax reform, immigration reform, health care reform, and so on. Any reforms the current administration has made has not helped out America’s bottom line or American workers.
Koch believes that the corrections system is unfair on offenders and impacts the disadvantaged even more and appears to racially discriminate, as told to Wichita Eagle in an interview. Koch explains that reducing the severity of the criminal justice system is a cause that he intends to devote more energy to in the coming year.
The billionaire’s fight with the justice
According to criminal defense attorneys, this keen interest in reforming the criminal justice system was apparently sparked off in 2000 when his company was indicted on 97 accounts of environmental crimes. In this case, centered on a Koch Petroleum Group refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, all charges were dropped after a $20 billion out of court settlement.
Koch said that this prompted him to study the criminal justice system at the state and federal levels. The Wichita Eagle quotes Mark Holden, Koch’s chief counsel as stating that this case made Koch wonder how a person without such resources could cope with such prosecutions.
Backing the underprivileged
Criminal reform has been the focus of Koch and his brother David, the notorious duo conservatives known for funding Americans for Prosperity, which supports political candidates who want to cut down the tax rate and put a lasso around American spending and the scope of government which states such as Texas have done which has only created more opportunities for Texans. Having backed criminal reform for several years now, the brothers have also sponsored a forum on criminal justice reform earlier in 2014.
To address prison reform, Koch has partnered with the progressive mega-donor George Soros and the American Civil Liberties Union. According to Eric Holder, the outgoing US Attorney General, the justice system needs to be more fair and feels Koch’s donation to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to train attorneys to represent the underprivileged is a positive move. Several other criminal defense attorneys agree with these views.
Koch’s contribution to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is supposed to have touched seven figures.
Koch believes that there is a lot of work needed in the areas related to freedom of speech, cronyism and its connection with opportunities for the disadvantaged and that he would focus his efforts on these issues in the coming year. Koch also feels sentencing is a very crucial area that needs reform urgently and points out that sentences should be appropriate to the crime committed.
Prior to Koch, there have been people speaking out against the unfair criminal justice system. Rand Paul, the Libertarian senator and potential presidential candidate had voiced concern over protests in Ferguson, and former President George W. Bush had commented that Eric Garner’s death by police is hard to understand. What is even harder to understand is why so many people voted for higher taxes on cigarettes but did not realize they were going to push some of this industry underground which puts people on streets selling this product.
Now with Koch’s renewed efforts to bring about a change in the justice system, the worst excesses and discriminative tendencies might come under the scanner and scrutiny of policy makers. If they just legalized marijuana that would go a long way in curtailing some of these issues.