In Which A Boogeyman Throws a Curve

I’ve mentioned the Koch brothers here in the past, and have observed that despite their support for a number of things (the arts, medical research, the ACLU) that liberals also support, their opposition to Leviathan-style government has made them (as a commenter at Reason once said) “the Slendermen of the progs.”

Well, as it happens, Charles Koch has found another political cause, according to an article in the Wichita Eagle:

Ten years ago, he began giving money to support efforts by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to help train defense lawyers and reverse what some see as a national trend to get tough on crime, which has resulted in the tripling of the incarceration rate since the 1980s and has stripped the poor of their rights to a legal defense.

He’s going to give more to that effort, he said.

“Over the next year, we are going to be pushing the issues key to this, which need a lot of work in this country,” Koch said. “And that would be freedom of speech, cronyism and how that relates to opportunities for the disadvantaged.”

The nation’s criminal justice system needs reform, “especially for the disadvantaged,” Koch said, “making it fair and making (criminal) sentences more appropriate to the crime that has been committed.”

Among other things, Koch would like to see it become easier for non-violent felons to have their records expunged (an option that, while available, is too complicated and expensive for many people to take.)

I’m not sure where I stand on this, knowing only too well that non-violent criminals sometimes graduate to violence. Still, I think it will be interesting to see if the folks on the other side of the aisle will acknowledge that their bete noire doesn’t always disagree with them.

Ah, who am I kidding? Thinking is much harder than following orders, whether from the left or right.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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3 Responses to In Which A Boogeyman Throws a Curve

  1. Jimmy Huck says:

    Happy New Year, Prof. Mondo. Haven’t been here in a while, so I thought I’d drop in for a visit. I think Charles Koch’s intent is right (and laudable), but the solution he is proposing (i.e. to train defense lawyers) is misplaced. I would say (and I think most liberals would agree with me) that what is really needed aren’t better-trained defense lawyers who can fight the good fight for those disproportionately disadvantaged by the criminal legal system, but to actually change the legal system itself. What good is it, really, to fight harder and better against a stacked system? Shouldn’t the real solution be to unstack the system itself? Perhaps decriminalizing marijuana? Ending 3 strikes laws? Terminating stop & frisk practices? Even you note the financial inequity in the system of being able to expunge one’s record (thus being employable, etc.). It sounds to me like Koch’s solution is to prop up the criminal defense lawyer’s guild, not making sure their services are less needed. Good intentions, bad approach.

    PS: I saw “Into the Woods” with my youngest daughter yesterday! I love Sondheim (he’s a lyrical genius), but I find this particular show to be on the overdone/tedious side. Peace and blessings for a happy 2015 in Mondoville!

    • profmondo says:

      Hey, JH — great to hear from you! I think you make a good point, although I wonder if this paragraph suggests that Mr. K has other irons in the fire as well:

      “Campaigning against overcriminalization has prompted Koch to form unofficial alliances with people and organizations that usually champion liberal causes, including political activist George Soros and the American Civil Liberties Union, who are also campaigning for a reduction in prison populations.”

      I guess we’ll see. So, was y’all’s screening as girl-heavy as ours?

      • Jimmy Huck says:

        It was a smallish crowd overall; but among those in attendance, the females dominated for sure.

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