Criminal Justice Reform and the Koch machine

Charles Koch and his network are trying to ride the wave of proposed federal criminal justice reform measures to address the unjust treatment suffered by minority groups in the system. But the whole idea of trying to reform “over-criminalization” is about corporations, not minorities. Their aim is to push for reform that will make it more difficult to prosecute corporate crimes, e.g. environmental crimes, by limiting criminal liability. This will benefit a number of the industries that the Koch brothers have an interest in. They are presenting it as a total package to try to disguise its real purpose. The shocking irony is that Koch was a detractor from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

But the fight against “over-criminalization” is just the early part of a now much broader reform movement known as “Right on Crime”. It self-describes as “a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy – reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money.” The Koch machine has an interest in “Right on Crime” in its effect on expanding the reentry and early release of prisoners. Their interest here is to push for the privatization of corrections and reentry services such as probation and parole. Reentry is basically how people step back into society after they have served their prison sentences.

The public university system in Florida has been corrupted by the Koch Brothers money for sometime now. The university promotes “Right on Crime”, which is also being pushed by State Policy Network (SPN), and ALEC, as well as the Koch machine. Florida State University is going to run a program called Project for Accountable Justice (PAJ) under an agreement with the Koch foundation. The Koch network aims to have universities like Florida State promote their agenda. Florida’s “Right on Crime” movement is also associated with contractors, lobbyists, and trade groups who will benefit from the reforms.

This push for private, for-profit prisons means tax payer dollars will be channeled towards corporations running the prison system. The problem here is that corporations owe their principal duty to their shareholders to get the best monetary returns on their investments.

Also consider how the whole thing will be pitched to gain support. The reformers will play the public safety concern card to make it seem necessary to monitor prisoners returning to society. This will then open up the door for private industry to manage and oversee it. Sorry to use the analogy, but it’s like when the Americans destroyed the utility infrastructure in Iraq so they could open the door for private corporations like Bechtel to go in and build new infrastructure. There is a lot of money to made for private industry in both prisons and war.

There is a history of reformers like the Koch brothers pushing an aggressive platform for prison corrections privatization. This thing could grow legs if the reforms they are promoting are adopted. ALEC fits into this plan by feeding the ideas to state legislators who take the ideas and model bills back to their states for approval and implementation.



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