Criminal Justice & Policing Reform
OverviewReforms to the criminal justice system that promote human dignity, reduce costs, enhance public safety, and make victims whole will lead to an increase in well-being for all.
The Charles Koch Institute works on these six areas of criminal justice and policing reform in order to improve public safety, reduce costs, and respect the dignity of each individual:
- Excessive & Disproportionate Sentencing: Too many people in America go to prison—and for far too long—for low-level, nonviolent crimes. All criminals should be held accountable, but punishments should be proportional to the crime committed.
- Collateral Consequences of Incarceration: Thousands of laws keep people from obtaining jobs and productively re-entering a community once they have served their sentence. After being held accountable, an ex-offender should be allowed to put his or her life back together.
- Overcriminalization: Thousands of ordinary activities are classified as crimes, including shipping lobsters in the wrong kind of container and shampooing hair without a license. Thousands of federal laws and hundreds of thousands of federal regulations carry criminal penalties. We shouldn’t criminalize so many things, and the ultimate criminal sanction—incarceration—should be reserved for truly dangerous offenders.
- Accidental Criminals: Traditionally, a crime consists of a guilty act (actus reus) and a guilty state of mind (mens rea). If the government accuses you of a crime, in most cases it should be the government’s responsibility to prove both otherwise innocent individuals risk becoming accidental criminals.
- Civil Asset Forfeiture: Law enforcement officers can take your property merely because they suspect it relates to a crime. Getting your property returned is difficult and the seized assets may go directly to a law enforcement agency’s budget. Law enforcement should never have an incentive to police for profit. Asset forfeitures should require a criminal conviction and due process rights.
- Encouraging Peace Officers: Trust between the police and the community would be better fostered if the police were seen as peace officers. Police officers now have equipment and vehicles built for war. The role of policing should be to serve the community, and policies that encourage this are smarter than police militarization.
Our senior scholar on criminal justice & policing reform
Vikrant P. Reddy, senior research fellowReddy previously served as a senior policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he managed the launch of their national Right on Crime initiative in 2010. He has also worked as a research assistant at the Cato Institute, as a law clerk to the Hon. Gina M. Benavides of the 13th Court of Appeals of Texas, and as an attorney in private practice. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and an appointee to the executive committee of the Criminal Law Practice Group of the Federalist Society. He is also an appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Texas State Advisory Committee. Reddy graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s in Plan II honors, economics, and history and earned his law degree at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas.
Prison Fellowship and Charles Koch Institute Public Opinion Survey: “What Do Virginians Actually Think About the Criminal Justice System?”
From the Blog
By Editorial Team | July 26, 2016
According to a new report by the Florida branch of TaxWatch, employment is critical for reducing recidivism and keeping restored citizens from returning to prison. Florida’s over incarceration problem has cost its taxpayers billions of dollars. Also, according to William Patrick at Florida Watchdog, the state currently has around 100,000 prisoners—the third highest amount among […]Read More
By Editorial Team | July 25, 2016
Writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Charles Mitchell and J.C. Watts, two self-styled tough on crime conservatives, say that years of pro-incarceration policies and sentences have created a “bloated, hugely expensive criminal-justice system” that “has produced disappointing results.” The authors argue that the time is right for Pennsylvania to adopt reform measures in its criminal justice […]Read More
By Editorial Team | July 19, 2016
Jacob Sullum of Reason highlights several cases where police relied on faulty suspicions of drug possession to arrest, detain, and convict people. Furthermore, he writes that thousands of people nationwide have potentially faced similar situations. Highlighting one example, Sullum explains that sheriff’s deputies in Leawood, Kansas, detained the Harte family for more than two hours […]Read More
By Editorial Team | July 19, 2016
A study from Roland G. Fryer Jr., a professor of economics at Harvard University, claims that although black men and women are disproportionately subject to most forms of force from law enforcement, there does not appear to be a disproportionate impact in terms of police shootings themselves. In response to the recent deaths of black […]Read More
By Editorial Team | July 15, 2016
A recent ruling raises questions regarding the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and whether it needs to be reformed. The particular case, United States v. Nosal, upheld some of the charges against a man who used another individual’s password to access his former employer’s client database. For Reason’s Scott Shackford, the United States v. […]Read More