Kochs offer $4M for anti-recidivism program

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The donor network helmed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is putting $4 million behind a pilot program aimed at reducing recidivism rates among former prisoners.

The effort, called Safe Streets and Second Chances, launches Wednesday in four trial states — Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. The 1,000 participants will come from a mix of rural and urban communities and will receive “individualized reentry” programs and have their progress tracked.


The program is led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis, an author and professor who says the U.S. prison system is focused too much on punishment and not enough on rehabilitation.

“This unique initiative marries research-driven policy and reentry services reforms,” Pettus-Davis said in a statement. “Even though incarceration and reentry impacts millions of people’s lives in our country, there is a huge void in research on creating a successful transition of people from prison back home to our communities. We’re closing the gap.”

President Trump has voiced his support for prison reform.

At a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) at the White House earlier this month, Trump said his administration has “a great interest” in reducing recidivism rates.

“We want to ensure that those who enter the justice system are able to contribute to their communities after they leave prison, which is one of many very difficult subjects we’re discussing, having to do with our great country,” Trump said.

“The vast majority of incarcerated individuals will be released at some point, and often struggle to become self-sufficient once they exit the correctional system. We have a great interest in helping them turn their lives around, get a second chance, and make our community safe.” 

The president cited job training, mentoring and drug addiction treatment as options that should be available for those reentering society.

More than two-thirds of Americans released from prison this year are expected to return within five years, Safe Streets and Second Chances said in a release.

In addition to Pettus-Davis, the program will be led by Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden and deputy general counsel Jenny Kim, as well as a half-dozen other philanthropists with close ties to the Kochs.

The Koch Network will hold its winter seminar in Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend, where the theme will be “Breaking Barriers: Because Free People are Capable of Extraordinary Things.”

Tags Crime Criminal justice reform Donald Trump Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Koch Brothers Recidivism Sam Brownback

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