Koch Industries' Prison-Reform Warrior

August 28, 2018

Last year’s South by Southwest conference featured what might seem unusual panel-fellows: Mark Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries, sat on stage alongside Calvin Broadus Jr., the entertainer and entrepreneur better known as Snoop Dogg.

Holden and Dogg joined another Koch representative, Vikrant Reddy, and Weldon Angelos, founder of Extravagant Records and himself a former inmate, to talk about prison reform.

Charles Koch, whose massive, sprawling private company, based in Wichita, Kan., does everything from transport oil to produce Brawny paper towels, might seem an unlikely proponent of an ostensibly bleeding-heart platform. (His brother David recently retired.) But Holden says it’s entirely consistent with the family’s libertarian ethos—that personal dignity is earned through being productive, that bloated governments should be trimmed and their overreach reined in.

Holden, who worked as a jail guard years ago, has spearheaded Koch’s criminal-justice efforts, preaching about America’s unjust “two-tiered system” where the rich get better outcomes, and lobbying for legislation to reduce prison populations and provide programs to rehabilitate formerly incarcerated people.