The criminal justice system in the United States today is “set up to entrap and ensnare those who have the least resources,” Koch Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mark Holden said Thursday.
“We don’t think that’s fair. We don’t think that’s just,” Holden told the Philadelphia radio program Mark & Denise in the Mornings.
Holden’s remarks came before a scheduled panel that evening with the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia at the city’s Eastern State Penitentiary, believed to be the world’s first penitentiary and now a National Historic Landmark.
“We’re very focused on trying to reduce the size of the criminal justice system, consistent with public safety, of course,” he said.
“And we want everybody to be treated with respect and dignity in the system. We want a system that provides second chances for those who have made mistakes but are trying to do the right thing and get a second chance, particularly because a lot of people who get caught up in the system never had a first chance.”
Holden also voiced support for the FIRST STEP Act in Congress, a prison reform bill that cleared the House last month on a bipartisan 360-59 vote.
“This seems to be an issue that unites the left and the right,” Holden said. It’s not about “being tough on crime, it’s about being smart on crime and soft on taxpayers.”
Noting Koch’s work with Valerie Jarrett in the Obama administration and Jared Kushner in the Trump administration, Holden added that there is a “real opportunity” to make progress.
“Whoa, Denise. Koch brothers are down with criminal justice reform,” co-host Mark Tyler remarked to his co-host, Denise Clay, as the interview concluded.
Listen to the full interview here, beginning at the 1:41:00 mark.