Can The Ninth Richest Person in The World Help to Reduce Mass Incarceration?
Date:  01-13-2015

Charles Koch plans to pour more money into making the criminal justice system fairer for people from all walks of life
The Koch brothers, Charles and David, are known, and sometimes castigated for, being billionaire industrialists with a penchant for contributing heavily to very conservative causes.

So it came to a surprise to many when the Wichita Eagle published an article in which Charles Koch presented his view that the criminal justice system has too many laws and is responsible for incarcerating too many people, an opinion already held by liberals. To some it may also come as a surprise that over the past ten years Charles Koch has contributed money to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to help train lawyers to end mass incarceration in America, and plans to give even more.

The Koch bothers had their own taste of the criminal justice system. Almost twenty years ago the U.S. Government indicted Koch Industries on almost 100 charges related to environmental issues at its refinery in Texas. A $10 million settlement was eventually reached between the Government and Koch Petroleum.

The experience, according to the Eagle led Charles Koch to wonder what happened to people caught up in the legal system who could not afford high priced attorneys to represent them. Indigent defendants are not afforded the best legal representation in far too many cases.

The Eagle quotes Charles Koch as stating, “Over the next year, we are going to be pushing the issues key to this, which need a lot of work in this country. And that would be freedom of speech, cronyism and how that relates to opportunities for the disadvantaged.” Koch goes on to say, “The nation’s criminal justice system needs reform, especially for the disadvantaged, making it fair and making (criminal) sentences more appropriate to the crime that has been committed.”

It will be interesting to see if the ninth richest man in America will be able to help reduce mass incarceration in the United States. A diverse population throughout America is hoping he can.

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