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For criminal justice reform, the left and right try working together

Add reforming the country’s criminal justice system to the list of things that make strange bedfellows.

In an announcement expected today, the Center for American Progress and Koch Industries — arch enemies in the political arena — will disclose their backing of the newly-formed Coalition for Public Safety, an organization designed to launch “a multimillion-dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives,” according to the New York Times.

Others getting behind the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Tea Party-oriented FreedomWorks, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Leadership Conference Education Fund.

The coalition starts out with $5 million in funding from Koch Industries,  the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, which it will use to jump start the work it describes on its website:

The Coalition will work across the political spectrum to pursue a comprehensive set of federal, state, and local criminal justice reforms to reduce our jail and prison populations and associated costs; end the systemic problems of overcriminalization and overincarceration — particularly of low-income communities and communities of color; ensure swift and fair outcomes for both the accused and the victim; and make communities safe by reducing recidivism and breaking down barriers faced by those returning home after detention or incarceration.

As described in the Times, the coalition’s goal is “to leverage the broad reach of the group’s partners and financial backers to build public support for overhaul efforts through research and education campaigns, among other initiatives. The ideological spread should also allow them to reach out credibly to lawmakers of both parties.”

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