Aug 07, 2018

WATCH: Why Criminal Justice Reform is Good for the Economy

Post by Geoff Holtzman

Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden appeared on Bloomberg TV yesterday where he discussed criminal justice reform and the impact it can have on the economy. The following are highlights from the interview.

Holden on why the Koch network believes in criminal justice reform:

We’re focused on trying to unite people and removing barriers to opportunity, particularly for the least advantaged. Our criminal justice system has been a huge barrier to opportunity for people for the last 30-to-40 years. This is a moral issue, a constitutional issue, and a fiscal issue.

On the FIRST STEP Act, which currently awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate:

We’re very excited to work with the Trump administration and with Democrats and Republicans on the FIRST STEP Act, which is based on data-driven practices that we know keep communities safe and provide people with second chances who need them to have a productive life, so they don’t go back to prison … Jared Kushner, the president’s advisor, has done great work on this and we’ve got left and right working together. It’s very exciting.

On why criminal justice reform is a winning issue with voters:

Because it’s worked in 35 states. They’ve reduced crime rates, reduced incarceration rates, saved money, their communities are safer, and [criminal justice reform] keeps law enforcement safer, as well. In the past ten years, there’s been a change in the mood of the country. We’re now looking at [a] smart-on-crime, soft-on-taxpayers [approach]. Freedom Partners did a poll recently, and 70 percent of likely voters said the FIRST STEP Act needs to happen. They said they will come out and vote for candidates who favor criminal justice reform.

On how criminal justice reform will help the economy:

There are six million jobs that go wanting every year for skilled labor, and what we’ve seen in states like Michigan, where they have a vocational village at Handlon state prison, people come out of prison trained [for] these jobs and they don’t go back to prison. It’s all about that – we want to see more jobs, more opportunity, and more public safety, which is what will happen if we get [the FIRST STEP Act] passed.

On the need to embrace smart-on-crime reforms:

For every dollar spent on in-prison education, it defrays up to five dollars of future incarceration costs and reduces recidivism by 43 percent. [Currently] close to 70 percent of people come back to prison after they’re released, so that’s what we’re really focused on, and we have great partners [in] the president, Jared Kushner, [Sen.] Mike Lee, [Rep.] Hakeem Jeffries, and others.

To watch the full segment, click here.

If you agree that it’s time for criminal justice reform, click here to urge your Senator to support the FIRST STEP Act.