It’s no secret that George Soros is a big advocate of U.S. criminal justice reform. It is also no secret that he has provided big money to the empty-the-prison groups and others.
Until a few days ago, however, we didn’t know just how big a role Soros played.
Republicans — and particularly conservatives — who have bought into the criminal justice reform initiative, may have been drawn into something other than what they saw on the surface. Certainly many of the reasons for their advocacy are well-intentioned and deserved. But a careful review of George Soros’ intentions, his prominent involvement, leadership and money provided on the issue is recommended, and may give pause to over-enthusiasm.
The release of reams of leaked documents from Soros’ Open Society Foundation several days ago makes it clear that Soros money has largely fueled the reform effort that has been enacted by several state legislatures, and has been included in federal legislation waiting for congressional approval. According to the leaked documents, “The Open Society Foundation remains among the largest contributors of philanthropic dollars to reform strategies specifically targeted to reducing incarceration.” The document mentions other donors, including the Koch Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and others as significant donors, but “limited in their focus.”
George Soros has little interest in assisting prisoners who languish in U.S. prisons, and he has little interest in making life safer, or better, for American taxpayers. Rather, his interest is doing as much damage to the future of America as he, and his money, can possibly do, in as short a time as possible. Soros, by his own admission, believes that the principle obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States, and that capitalism is the main enemy to what he calls an open society. He is an admitted socialist (not of the democratic, Bernie Sanders variety) and has promoted a socialist agenda across the globe. He believes in open borders, the expansion of the welfare estate, and an increase in every sort of tax. In a word, he is a committed leftist who puts his money where his mouth is. Documents now available from the Soros foundation make clear just how involved Soros has been, and what his motivations are regarding reforming the criminal justice system.
At the heart of the campaign is the dismantling of “mass incarceration” and reduction of the U.S. prison population by 50 percent by 2023. Coupled with that: Reforming national drug policy from a criminal justice to health-based approach, reforming police practices, and decimalizing juvenile justice.
But written all over the leaked documents is the premise that it is not only a question of dramatically reducing the U.S. prison population in only seven years. It is also a question of whom will be released. Consistent with what other left-wing criminologists have stated, the Open Society Foundation recognizes that there are simply not enough non-violent and low-level offenders in prison to reach the 50 percent mark, and that their ultimate goal is to release violent and repeat offenders as well:
“Although understandable for political reasons, we know that a continued focus solely on reforms associated with less serious offenses cannot cut the U.S. prison population in half in the near or intermediate term. For these and other reasons, we developed our strategy on the assumption that reducing incarceration to 50 percent of 2012 levels by 2023 would require a broadened policy debate that more effectively calls into question the efficacy of current policy in keeping communities safe and that involves expanding the viability of policy reform options that address extreme prison sentences and terms, for which there does not currently exist public support or political will.”
Soros is sufficiently realistic to know that the elimination of “mass incarceration” will not happen without the participation of both conservatives and the black community, and praises the “emergence of political conservatives and the reawakening of a largely long-silent African-American leadership in the call of rolling back mass incarceration.” He recognizes that adherence to libertarian principles has brought some conservatives to the cause, “as embodied in the 2010 creation of the conservative Right on Crime think tank…and the Koch brothers recent commitment to ending over-criminalization.”
The recent increase in violent crime — “uptick” is Soros’s word — is recognized as a detriment to passage of legislation, and warns that advocates and funders will need to be vigilant in responding to concerns such as the Ferguson Effect. No concern for the victims or the property destroyed, only for the cause — emptying the prisons. The Foundation also recognized the danger that could flow from violent offenders released before their time who continue to commit crimes after their release — a situation at the heart of criticism of early release which could, the Soros people believe, rein in conservative advocates for reform. Said the foundation: “Another challenge arose in mid-January, when authorities in Ohio alleged that one such man released early brutally murdered his wife and two young children. The news led some on the right to call for an end to the program. This turn of events will test the strength and will of the conservative voices within the bipartisan coalition to continue to support reforms.”
Confrontations — and riots — with the police are viewed by Soros as a silver lining, energizing the African-American community to the cause. The Open Society Foundation, in fact, granted $1 million to a group in Baltimore, after the riots, “to accelerate the dismantling of structural inequality generated and maintained by local law enforcement and to engage residents in shaping and monitoring reform.” The grant, the foundation stated, would “create a culture of accountability for policing in Baltimore, recognizing the pervasive racism, disrespect and lawlessness hat give rise to recent events.”
Another silver lining to Soros was “the killings of multiple unarmed black men and boys by police in several places across the country, which have further consolidated the engagement of the black community and leadership in efforts to challenge mass incarceration, now creating perhaps the best opportunity we have seen to transition the national reform conversation from a narrow and cold cost/benefit calculation to one grounded in justice and rights.”
No concern for those killed, no concern or sympathy for the officers caught in impossible situations, no sympathy for innocent bystanders injured by the riots, or for businessmen ruined by the violence. And certainly no concern for the truth. Only concern for the cause.