Charles Koch Institute Sponsoring Forum on Criminal Justice System

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 09:24 AM

By Sharon Churcher

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The Charles Koch Institute has joined with civil rights campaigners, public policy experts, lawyers, and a former top cop to use social media to start a debate about criminal justice reform and the impact of prison on racial minorities, the news site Vox reported.

The institute, run by industrialist Charles Koch, has posted an ad on Facebook for a panel discussion Wednesday night in Austin, Texas, called "How the Criminal Justice System Impacts Well-Being," according to Vox.

The forum will be moderated by Andrew Kirell, the editor-in-chief of Mediaite. The news organization will livestream the event, with viewers invited to submit questions by Twitter using the hashtag #justicereform.

The panel will feature Gary Bledsoe, the president of the Texas NAACP; Marc Levin, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice; Norman L. Reimer, the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

A teaser on the Charles Koch Institute site, says the panel will discuss why the United States has "only 5 percent of the world’s population but about 25 percent of its known prison population."

The posting says that the U.S. prison population has increased by 790 percent since 1980, exceeding 2 million people in 2002. Moreover, minorities make up roughly 37 percent of the overall U.S. population, yet account for 60 percent of those incarcerated.

Charles Koch’s brother, David, is a longtime supporter of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group lobbying for reform of mandatory sentencing for nonviolent offenses. The Koch brothers actively support conservative political causes.

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