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I got an email last week, alerting me to a new bipartisan coalition whose aim it is to reform our criminal justice system and cut mass incarcerations by 50% over the next 10 years. My first thought was “sign me up!”  And then I looked at some of the people and organizations who were participating. Although I still firmly believe that it’s an important and admirable goal, some of the participants have me wondering about their ulterior motives.

Van Jones is the man behind #cut50, the main organization spearheading the coalition. #Cut50, in conjunction with Newt Gingrich’s Gingrich Productions, is producing the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, happening Thursday in Washington, D.C., and being livestreamed, for free, to anyone who’s concerned about one of the most devastating issues for millions of people here in the US. (Disclaimer, a quick visit to the Gingrich Productions website turned up no mention of the Bipartisan Summit, unlike a visit to the cut50 website…)

Although I adore and respect Van Jones, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that a look at the participants in the truly bipartisan summit and subsequent efforts to cut the mass incarceration rates and reform our criminal justice system make me a little uncomfortable.

In addition to Gingrich, the list of participants from the other end of the political spectrum include Koch Industries, the American Legislative Exchange Council (aka ALEC), former NYPD chief Bernard Kerik, and other infamous names including Matt Kibbe, Ken Blackwell and more!

All that said, I know that any efforts to effect real change must include some strange bedfellows. But this strange????  I don’t know!

We’ll continue this conversation, though I truly applaud Van Jones’ efforts!

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