George Soros seeks to reform criminal justice from the ground up

8:54 am on May 9, 2017

George Soros is one of the most successful investors in the history of markets. But many people don’t know that he’s also one of the most prolific philanthropists in the world today. Over the last 40 years, he has given away more than $15 billion to causes that he holds dear. Most of this philanthropic activity has been dedicated to the maintenance of open, tolerant and human-rights-upholding societies.

Perhaps nowhere have these efforts been more focused and vast than in the United States of America itself. One of Soros’ pet projects has long been criminal justice reform. He has sought to reform the U.S. system of mass incarceration and the policies and procedures broadly termed the War on Drugs. Recently, George Soros has begun following a new strategy in his quest to create a more fair and just system of incarceration in the United States. George Soros established the Open Society Foundations.

This new strategy involves the replacement of conservative prosecutors, many of whom largely support the War on Drugs, with more progressive-minded and liberal prosecutors who are likely to sympathetically view minority defendants and those facing charges involving nonviolent drug offenses. The brilliance of the strategy lies in the fact that prosecutors wield more power than perhaps any other elected official in the country. This is a feature that is unique to the United States alone. The main source of this immense power the prosecutors enjoy is the judicial tool that is mostly unique to this country, the plea bargain.

Most people understand that prosecutors enjoy wide latitude in who to bring charges against. Of course, this also has its limits. A prosecutor could not long allow for murders to go free without ever charging them with a crime. That prosecutor would quickly face sanctions and, at a minimum, almost certainly lose any reelection bid. Still, this is one way in which prosecutors decide matters of extreme importance to the citizens within their jurisdictions. If a crime has been committed where the evidence is questionable or where there is no identifiable victim, prosecutors do, in fact, enjoy great discretion as to when and where they bring charges.

However, this is only the most obvious way in which prosecutors wield tremendous power. In fact, there’s another way in which prosecutors arguably are granted even more extensive authority. Although technically not granted power to decide who goes to jail – that’s within the realm of judges and juries – in the real world, prosecutors often are the ones who decide who will go to jail, not just who will stay out of jail. By threatening defendants with lengthy prison sentences, prosecutors in the United States have almost unilateral power to compel defendants to plead guilty to crimes, even if they have not committed them.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/university/greatest/georgesoros.asp