by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
C.J. Ciaramella reports for the Washington Free Beacon on the wide-ranging ideological support for criminal justice reform.
Criminal justice reform might be the only issue that can put the Koch Institute, the Heritage foundation, and former White House green jobs czar Van Jones in the same room.
The Charles Koch Institute hosted a panel discussion last week on Capitol Hill that brought together arch-conservatives and avowed liberals to discuss the prospects for criminal justice reform.
The title of the event, “Reaching the tipping point,” alluded to the hope among criminal justice reform advocates that public opinion and organized advocacy might finally be reaching the critical mass necessary to compel change at the federal level. …
… “Today we aren’t suffering from being too lax on crime,” the Koch Institute’s William Ruger said. Rather the United States is suffering from an “overcriminalization epidemic.”
The Koch brothers, whose prolific campaign spending against Democrats and President Obama once led Harry Reid to call them “un-American” on the floor of the Senate, have quietly been funding criminal justice reform issues through their various organizations.
For example, Koch Industries recently awarded a major grant to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to fund indigent criminal defense.
The grant won praise from unlikely corners.
“There’s a justice gap,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview with the Marshall Project. “And to hear that the Koch brothers would be contributing money in that way is something that I think should be applauded.”
The Koch brothers aren’t alone on the right. Last year, the American Legislative Exchange Committee (ALEC), another liberal bête noir, came out in favor of allowing more judicial discretion in mandatory minimum sentencing structures.
And the National Rifle Association worked with Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) to roll back a harsh mandatory minimum law on gun crimes in Florida.
Reform-minded conservatives say the current criminal justice system has led to profligate spending, federal overreach, and misplaced priorities.
The article goes on to cite Marc Levin of Right on Crime, whose name might be familiar to those who have followed recent debates about criminal justice reforms in North Carolina.