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Koch Institute Hosts National Summit On Criminal Justice Reform In New Orleans

This week the Charles Koch Institute hosts a national summit in New Orleans on criminal justice reform. Yes, that's Koch as in conservative backers the Koch brothers. Called Advancing Justice, the summit draws a wide range of political perspectives.

Vikrant Reddy is a senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. He says the U.S. is in a hot moment for prison and policing reform.

"A lot of people on the left will say one of the problems we have is the racial disparities and the terrible racial outcomes we see in American criminal justice," Reddy says. "A lot of people who are economic conservatives will say this just costs too much."

Speakers include Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and former Obama staffer Stephanie Cutter. Reddy says tough on crime conservatives concerned with public safety should support reform.

"The vast majority of people who go into prisons in the United States will come out of prison," he says. "And so our criminal justice system needs to do a good job of making sure that those people are in a position to succeed. Those those people can get gainful employment, that they can get housing, they can get mental health treatment if they have mental health problems. And you do those things because of the public safety concern."

Reddy says the Institute chose to hold the summit in Louisiana because it's something of an outlier. Neighboring states Mississippi and Texas already passed reforms -- and saw a drop in crime rates.

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