Advancing policies that make people’s lives better, such as the criminal justice reform of the FIRST STEP Act, takes cooperation and work from people across communities, business, and government. For much of his career, Koch Industries Senior Vice President Mark Holden has worked to do just that, collaborating with both the Obama and Trump administrations on policies that provide for second chances while making communities safer.
“This has been a total team effort across the board, and we’re just proud to play a role in it,” Holden said at the Axios News Shapers discussion about criminal justice reform in Washington, D.C.
Hours after the U.S. Senate voted to advance the FIRST STEP Act to the U.S. House, where upon passage it will head to the president’s desk, Holden called attention to the importance of taking the next step to reform the system even further.
In terms of what might be considered a “second step” in criminal justice reform, Holden mentioned several areas, including indigent defense, asset forfeiture, bail bonds, and comprehensive reentry, which is the focus of Safe Streets & Second Chances. This evidence-driven program being piloted in four states has developed individualized reentry programs to rehabilitate and equip people returning from prison with the skills they need to succeed.
“We need to start taking away all these barriers to opportunity for people once they’ve paid their debt to society, whether it’s voting, whether it’s housing, whether it’s jobs,” Holden said. “What they really need is a chance. Most of the people in prison in our country come from really desperate situations. It doesn’t excuse anything they’ve done. But more punishment doesn’t work.”
[Read more about Mark’s experience working for criminal justice reform]
Rehabilitation and helping people improve their lives is critical. “That’s not some touchy-feely thing. It’s real, and it helps, and that’s what has changed in the states that has led us to this point with the FIRST STEP Act,” Holden said.
Watch the full event here.