(Editor’s note: Portions of this article have been adapted from a report by the author first published in the February and March 2005 issues of Foundation Watch, a publication of the Capital Research Center . We wish to thank the Center for granting permission to use this material.)  


Let me begin by retelling a famous horror story.polly klass crime leniency excuses violent felons

On the night of October 1, 1993, twelve-year-old Polly Klaas—a pretty, straight-A student with laughing eyes and sun-streaked hair—was hosting two giggling girlfriends at a slumber party in her mother’s home in Petaluma, California. Her mother and sister were asleep down the hall.
Around ten-thirty, Polly got up and went to the door of her bedroom. When she opened it, a big, stocky, bearded stranger with tattooed arms and cold eyes stood in the doorway, brandishing a kitchen knife.
“Don’t scream or I’ll cut your throats,” the man said.
He tied up Polly’s two friends and put cloth hoods over their heads. “Please don’t hurt my mom or sister,” Polly begged.
The stranger picked her up and told the other girls to count to a thousand. “Your friend will be back soon,” he promised.
It didn’t happen.
For two months, a nationwide hunt for the missing girl riveted the nation. Polly’s face—smiling, dimpled, wavy-haired—appeared in newspapers and magazines, on television and posters.
Not until November 27 did a property owner in a nearby county find suspicious articles of clothing near a tree. Alarmed, she remembered that on the night of October 1, her babysitter had encountered a bearded stranger on her property in a stalled car. Police had been summoned, helped him out, and filed a routine incident report. Now, she phoned the police about her recollection. They checked the earlier report and came up with a name.
Only then did they pull up the man’s full criminal history. Within two days, the FBI matched a palm print left by the man in Polly’s bedroom to that of the man in the stalled car.
He was a man who had just been paroled for kidnapping and sexual assault.


A Legacy of Leniency

Richard Allen Davis had been a one-man crime wave since childhood. As a kid, he tortured animals, burglarized homes, stole cars. An exasperated judge offered him a choice: reform school or the Army. Davis joined the military—which threw him out after a year of drug use, fighting, and vandalism. In 1973, he was arrested repeatedly for public drunkenness, burglaries, drug possession, and traffic warrants. But he was allowed to plea bargain everything down to a single charge of burglary. Sentenced to “time served” in jail while awaiting trial, he was back on the streets on probation in April 1974.
“Mr. Davis lacks both the courage and motivation to change his patterns,” his probation officer wrote. “There is no question that he will be in State Prison within a few years, unless the Criminal Justice System is able to make a more profound impression on the defendant than has been the case so far.”
The system made an impression on Davis, all right: It started giving him welfare checks, counseling on money management, advice on job-seeking. In repayment, just five weeksafter his release, he was caught burglarizing a school.
Psychiatrists warned that Davis "is considered to be extremely dangerous to others, especially women.”
Now he faced state prison, and his probation officer recommended it. But the court thought otherwise. It sent him to prison for a ninety-day diagnosis—then suspended proceedings so that he could enter an alcoholism treatment program at a V.A. hospital. Davis left the program on September 8. Two days later, he was arrested again, as a felon possessing a dangerous weapon.
The system’s response? The court gave him a one-year suspended prison term—and three more years of probation.
It wasn’t until August 1975—after a new string of robberies, burglaries, and parole violations—that Davis was finally sent to prison. He was only 21. Though he’d been arrested some twenty times in only two years, this was his first time in prison.
He was sentenced for an indeterminate period of six months to fifteen years.
The Parole Board turned him loose after only a year.
The very next month, in September 1976, he carjacked a legal secretary at knifepoint and tried to sexually assault her. The bleeding woman escaped and Davis was arrested by a passing policeman. While awaiting trial, he tried to hang himself in his cell. He was moved to Napa State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. On December 16, taking advantage of lax hospital security, he walked off.
Hours later, Davis broke into a Napa home and assaulted a sleeping woman. The next day, he stole guns. Two days later, he attempted to carjack a second woman. Davis then burglarized a home, but finally was captured nearby by police.

Charged with six felonies, he pled insanity. Four court-appointed psychiatrists found him perfectly sane—but a cold-blooded sociopath. “He lacks conscience and has no feelings of guilt or remorse,” they wrote, warning that “if released, he would be certain to resume his pattern of criminal behavior: theft, burglary and assaults against women. Because of these assaultive tendencies, he is considered to be extremely dangerous to others, especially women.”

Let’s Make a Deal

Despite all this, another plea bargain eliminated all the sex and weapons charges in the first attempted carjacking—which meant that Davis’s name would not go into California’s sex-offenderpolly klass richard allen davis dangerous criminals self defense women registry. For that crime, he was given a term of one to twenty-five years for kidnapping. And he got another, even-better plea deal for the rest of his crime spree. The D.A. consolidated six pending felonies into only two: assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. He and the judge didn’t even wait for the presentencing report that would have revealed the scope of Davis’s criminal history. “I was glad to get rid of the man,” the judge said later.
On June 28, 1977, they did just that. For burglarizing a home, he was given a reduced charge of “receiving stolen property” and a sentence of six months to ten years. For the rest of the Napa crime spree, he got six months to life. All the sentences were to run concurrently with his previous sentences. Both the D.A. and the judge knew that under California law, it would boil down to just five years behind bars.
Davis was back on the streets on March 4, 1982. For the next two years, he took up with a female drug dealer and roamed the Pacific Northwest, stealing, selling dope, occasionally collecting welfare. In November 1984, the Bonnie-and-Clyde imitators beat and kidnapped a woman from her apartment, then forced her to withdraw $6,000 from her bank. After a string of store and bank robberies, they were captured in March 1985.
Davis was sentenced in July 1985 to sixteen years for the attack on the woman in the apartment. But thanks to “good behavior” rules, his prison term was cut in half.
Had Richard Allen Davis served out his full term, he would not have been freed until 2001. Instead, he was released on June 27, 1993.
Three months later, he would loom in the doorway of Polly Klaas.
There is a familiar, recurring pattern in the story of Richard Allen Davis: steadily escalating acts of crime and violence, and lenient responses by the legal system, completely unrelated to the severity and incorrigibility of his offenses.
For Davis, like countless others, records of his juvenile offenses were buried or expunged in the interests of “privacy,” so that this budding killer would not be “stigmatized” by the appalling reputation that he had earned. The system didn’t punish his early adult crimes; it rewarded them—with welfare payments, employment assistance, and free counseling. The system’s reflexive response to his chronic parole and probation violations was to grant him more parole and probation. His sex crimes were plea-bargained down to non-sexual assaults, airbrushing away this ominous aspect of his criminal history—thus keeping his name off sex-offender registries, where it might raise a red flag to others. Likewise, multiple criminal charges for his crime sprees were consolidated, then pled down—all to minimize the severity of his criminal record and the duration of his incarcerations. Even when Davis was given tough-sounding indeterminate prison sentences, legislators and parole officials had done all they could to accelerate the revolving door so it would expedite his return to the streets.
 

More Prison, Less Crime

In the wake of public outrage against the legal system that had allowed a chronic predator to murder Polly Klaas, nervous California legislators passed a tough “three-strikes” law, which aimed to take repeat felons off the streets for good. Other states and the federal government, under pressure from citizens shocked by similar atrocities, also passed get-tough measures—such as replacing early parole with strict, determinate prison terms and limiting judges’ discretion.
And these reforms worked. As prison populations surged—especially for violent criminals—violent crime rates plunged.
As prison populations surged, violent crime rates plunged.
In 1993, the year Polly Klaas was murdered, there were 1,369,000 inmates in U.S. jails and prisons. By 2004 that number had soared to 2,136,000. Simultaneously, the federal government’s National Crime Victimization Survey reported that in 1993 nearly 4.2 million serious violent crimes occurred. By 2004 that number had plummeted to 1.6 million. Plot on a graph these two trends—incarceration and violent crime—and you’ll see a great big “X.”

One would think that any intelligent person would see the causal connection here, as common sense would dictate. One would be wrong. In fact, the same people who crafted the legal system that had kept Richard Allen Davis out of prison have been quietly, diligently maneuvering to reverse the get-tough policies of recent years.

The Revolving Door Is Back

A March 2004 survey of states by the Vera Institute of Justice reported “an increase in support for early release provisions, including reducing the demands of truth in sentencing, and the development of new approaches [other than jail] to technical violators [of parole and probation].” Writing in the July 2004 issue of Governing Magazine, Christopher Swope confirmed this quiet reversal of direction:
In the past three years, about two-thirds of all states have lowered prison sentences or begun steering convicts into incarceration alternatives such as drug treatment or community corrections programs—and in many cases, Republican governors and/or legislators have been leading the way.
That November, liberal Ohio State law professor Douglas A. Berman, who runs an influential blog on sentencing policy, breathlessly reported “exciting news” from Wisconsin: “Lawmakers from both parties in the Legislature have vowed to work to reform a state law that requires criminals to serve their entire prison sentence with virtually no chance for early release.” He added: “Thousands more felons could regain the right to vote in Florida under a series of changes supported Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush and members of the state Clemency Board.”
At the same time, a California ballot initiative, known as Proposition 66, aimed to rewrite the state’s “three strikes” sentencing law. If passed, it would have limited the types of felonies to be counted as “third strikes” against repeat criminals. According to the San Francisco Chronicle,it also would have “changed the definition of some felonies, making assault with intent to rape an elderly or disabled person by a juvenile a nonviolent crime, for example.” Worse, it would have applied retroactively—which would have freed up to 26,000 inmates convicted under the existing law, according to the California District Attorneys Association. Only an eleventh-hour media blitz led by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger led to the initiative’s 47-53 percent defeat.
What was happening?
"About two-thirds of all states have lowered prison sentences or begun steering convicts into incarceration alternatives."
Many states, facing severe budget problems, were looking to save money—and emptying prison beds was one way to do it. But that’s not the only reason. According to the Vera Institute report cited earlier, “while the budget crises are providing the occasion for change, the reforms are often anchored in changing attitudes and philosophy,” including “a renewed focus on rehabilitation” [emphasis added].
Leading this movement is the anti-incarceration lobby: a well-heeled, extraordinarily influential network of individuals and groups whose philosophical ideas render them sympathetic to criminals—and hostile to all efforts to punish them.

I call this network “the Excuse-Making Industry.”

The Excuse-Making Industry 

As I described it in my book Criminal Justice? The Legal System vs. Individual Responsibility, the Excuse-Making Industry
. . .consists primarily of intellectuals in the social science establishment: the philosophers, psychological theorists, political scientists, legal scholars, sociologists, criminologists, economists, and historians whose theories have shaped our modern legal system. It also consists of an activist wing of fellow-travelers: social workers, counselors, therapists, legal-aid and civil-liberties lawyers, “inmate rights” advocates, “progressive” politicians and activists. . .
It’s a sprawling intellectual consensus . . . united in a single premise: that the criminal isn’t responsible for his behavior . . . Forces and circumstances outside his control “cause” him to behave as he does. He should be forgiven, or treated therapeutically, or placed in a better environment, or counseled to “cope” with his uncontrollable inner demons. But he must not be held accountable for his actions—and, under no circumstances, punished for what he “couldn’t help.”
It was this Industry which, during the 1960s and 1970s, initiated a quiet revolution in the criminal justice system. Its proponents managed to rout the last of those who believed the system’s purpose was to apprehend and punish criminals. Instead, the new policy experts in criminal justice instituted a long-cherished dream: not punishment, but rehabilitation of criminals.
The Excuse-Making Industry is united in a single premise: that the criminal isn’t responsible for his behavior.
Prisons were renamed “correctional facilities,” wardens became “corrections commissioners,” and some even referred to their inmates as “clients” with “special needs.” Taking cues from U.S. Supreme Court decisions under Chief Justice Earl Warren, judges and lawyers manufactured and elevated “rights” of criminals over the rights of crime victims. Probative evidence and confessions were excluded from courtrooms whenever police or prosecutors made the slightest miscues in paperwork or procedures. Rampant plea bargaining minimized criminal charges and sanitized criminal histories. Early-release programs and “diversionary sentences” quickly recycled thousands of hardened felons back onto the streets after they’d served but a fraction of their sentences.
From 1961 through 1969, the number of federal and state prisoners actually dropped every year. The likelihood of serving time for a crime was plunging, too. For every 1,000 arrests in 1961, 225 inmates were behind bars; by 1974, there were only 93.
And the result of this grand rehabilitation experiment?

An explosion of crime.

Blood in the Streets

In the early 1960s, at the same time the number of inmates began to plunge, crime rates—which had been relatively flat—began to rise sharply. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 3,384,160 serious crimes were reported in 1961. By 1974 that number had soared to 10,253,520. Yet despite this tripling in crime rates, there were fewer criminals behind bars in 1974 than in 1961.
Some saw the causal connection. In Losing Ground, social scientist Charles Murray noted that liberal leniency had radically altered the incentive structure governing personal behavior. Soon, “a thoughtful person watching the world around him . . . was accurately perceiving a considerably reduced risk of getting caught.”
Fed up with the crime epidemic, symbolized by the horror stories like that of Polly Klaas, the public demanded changes and nervous politicians complied. Over the past two decades, sentencing got much tougher in most states, with “mandatory minimums” and “three strikes” laws supplanting early parole and various “alternatives to incarceration.” The failed rehabilitation binge of the sixties and seventies sparked a reaction: a prison-building binge, to lock away thousands of felons previously “diverted” to the streets. Contrary to claims by anti-incarceration advocates that we were mostly locking up thousands of “minor drug offenders,” this surge in prison populations was composed overwhelmingly of violent and property criminals.
And, as we have already seen, that punitive “surge” worked against the bad guys in American communities—just as another punitive “surge” is proving its value against the bad guys in Iraq.

But, still philosophically wedded to the deterministic view that criminals are “driven” to commit offenses, the Excuse-Makers have been working diligently and often successfully to undermine and reverse the trend toward punitivity.

Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

Funding and choreographing many early anti-incarceration efforts was a New York philanthropy set up by the heir to a cosmetics fortune.
In 1969, Edna McConnell Clark—a daughter of Avon’s founder—expanded the family foundation and put her sons in charge. The foundation decided to focus on a variety of liberal charity projects. One was a “Justice Program,” which “focused on improving the criminal justice system in the United States, and in particular, addressing the issues of sentencing, prison reform and overcrowding.”
Enter Kenneth F. Schoen, described by the New York Times as “a pioneer in alternative sentencing programs.” Schoen took charge of the foundation’s Justice Program, where he wrote that “there are more humane, more productive, and safer ways to punish some people who have violated our laws than putting them behind bars.” Politicians, he said, “have got to change all those mindless get-tough crime laws and mandatory-minimum sentencing statutes that they passed in recent years, because these laws and policies are what’s creating the explosion in the prison population.”
Schoen honed this anti-incarceration outlook inside the belly of the beast. In 1972 he was Deputy Corrections Commissioner in Minnesota, where he engineered the passage of Minnesota’s Community Corrections Act, an “alternatives to incarceration” law. Elevated to state Commissioner of Corrections, Schoen oversaw implementation of the law. That’s where he hit upon his Big Idea.
The U.S. Justice Fund plays a vanguard role in pushing the Excuse-Making Industry’s agenda.
For Schoen, the big social problem wasn’t the exploding criminal population: it was exploding inmate population. So, rather than build more prisons to address rising crime, Schoen argued that criminal sentencing should be constrained by existing prison capacity. In other words, if you have only enough beds to house 1,000 inmates, you should sentence only 1,000 people to prison. Even if you have, say, 1,500 convicted criminals, you shouldn’t build 500 more cells. Instead, you should enact “sentencing guidelines” that will redirect 500 convicts you think are least dangerous into some form of “community alternative.”
In 1978, as Corrections Commissioner, Schoen engineered passage of a Minnesota law setting up a Sentencing Guidelines Commission, which operated on the basis of his Big Idea. He sold it as a way to “free up scarce prison beds” so as to give more prison time to truly dangerous and violent offenders, while diverting minor offenders to “alternatives.”
By 1991, Minnesota could boast that it was one of only nine states not under court order to reduce prison overcrowding. But that’s because so many of its most dangerous felons were roaming the streets. That same year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an investigative series unmasking the devastating results of the “sentencing guidelines.” With a parade of horror stories and shocking data, the paper revealed “a gentle brand of justice that gives breaks to rapists and child molesters.” Under the toothless sentencing guidelines, judges were diverting scores of brutal sex offenders into probation and treatment programs. First-degree sex offenders, supposed to serve forty-three months under the “guidelines,” actually served an average of only two years behind bars, while 27 percent never went to prison at all.
With that track record, Schoen moved on to New York City to head up McConnell Clark’s Justice Program. There, he funneled millions of dollars into conferences, books, reports, polls, prison-overcrowding lawsuits, and executive placement programs, all to help spread his Big Idea nationwide. He hired leading anti-incarceration groups—the ACLU, the Sentencing Project, the National Center for Institutions and Alternatives, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency—to handle these projects, and to reach foreordained research conclusions.
Schoen also targeted McConnell Clark money to state governments that seemed “receptive” to “what we had learned about alternative sanctions” and were prepared to “apply it to the pervasive problem of rising prison populations.” One participant in the Foundation’s executive search program, Morris Thigpen, had become Alabama Corrections Commissioner in 1987. According to the Justice Program’s 1988 annual report, “[state] officials agreed that Alabama could not afford to build the new prisons,” so “we selected Alabama as the first state in which to focus our resources” and “eliminate the annual prison population growth.”
Schoen granted money to Thigpen’s Department of Corrections to fund a workshop where state legislators were introduced to anti-prison researchers hyping his Big Idea. He also gave a grant to the state Parole Board to hire Todd Clear, then a Rutgers criminal-justice professor, “to help identify offenders who can be safely diverted to community-based programs.” With McConnell Clark funding, Clear had already performed that same service for the New York State Parole Board. Schoen then hired the Public Agenda Foundation to conduct public focus groups and polls about the popularity of alternatives to prison. He even awarded a grant to the University of Alabama’s School of Communication to sponsor a contest with prizes going to media reporters who gave favorable coverage to the “reform” efforts.
McConnell Clark money, and lots of it, went to other states, as well. One grant, administered by Todd Clear, underscored the Excuse-Makers’ blasé attitude toward public safety. It was for an experimental Probation Development Project (PDP) in Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon. Its stated goals, according the PDP pamphlet: “(1) To increase local capacity for maintaining offenders in the community, and thereby reduce the number committed to state institutions. (2) To provide the high level of structure, surveillance, and responsiveness required for the community supervision of a population of high risk clients [emphasis added].
Note that these “clients” weren’t to be selected because they were low risk, but precisely because they represented a high risk. In this “experiment” (with unsuspecting residents in the community as the guinea pigs), “Approximately 250 high risk felony offenders will be referred to the program in the first year.” Five state parole and probation officers would be selected to “maintain intensive supervision caseloads of 25 offenders [each].” Launched in April 1986, “The outcome of this experimental research project will be evaluated,” said the pamphlet, “and, if successful, recommendations will be made to the Corrections Division concerning the diversion of carefully selected, incarceration-bound offenders.”
The Big Idea of dumping dangerous criminals out of prison caught on with budget-minded corrections officials. The April 23-29, 1992 issue of Willamette Week, a Portland-area paper, reported that “the number of people out on parole and probation in Multnomah County has risen 33 percent in the last five years”—while “the number of POs (Probation Officers) out on the streets has dwindled” from 120 to below 100. And the parolees and probationers that these overworked POs were trying frantically to keep track of included 373 convicted murderers, 388 rapists, 928 guilty of assault, 73 kidnappers, 217 convicted for sodomy and 300 more for sexual abuse, 981 robbers, 76 arsonists, 1,021 burglars . . . the list goes on.
However, McConnell Clark’s behind-the-scenes efforts to undermine criminal punishments began attracting unwanted attention. I challenged Schoen face-to-face on a national cable talk show hosted by Geraldo Rivera. The National Rifle Association circulated a harsh special report on the Foundation, “America’s Powerful Anti-Prison Lobby.” Then, in March 1999, Anthony Thornton, a reporter for the Oklahoman, wrote a searing indictment of “Edna’s” machinations in that state.
“This is the story of a how a wealthy New York foundation set up shop at Oklahoma's second-largest state agency in its quest to play puppeteer over the criminal- justice system,” Thornton’s article began. He revealed that McConnell Clark had spent at least $862,200 in Oklahoma between 1993 and 1996, with $476,000 channeled through the corrections department and its quasi-governmental association. Much of the cash
. . . has gone toward junkets for corrections department employees, legislators, judges, district attorneys and other officials key to the fight over truth in sentencing . . . The foundation’s seminar destinations were the stuff that vacations are made of: Hilton Head Island, S.C.; San Francisco; Boston; Savannah, Ga.; Seattle; Phoenix; and Stowe, Vt. . . . “It was like a cult indoctrination, is what it was. It was just hammering, hammering, hammering: ‘We need to do away with prisons. We need to quit sending people to prison,’” said Gary Henry, a former district attorney who attended a four-day seminar at Oklahoma’s Shangri-La Resort in 1995.

This public-relations disaster led to a consequence that stunned Schoen and the Excuse-Making Industry: The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation shut down its Justice Program. Today, it mainly targets low-income youth with various development and job programs.

Open Society Institute

However, all was not bleak for the Excuse-Making Industry. About the same time Ken Schoen was closing up shop at Edna, billionaire financier George Soros was opening his doors to a dizzying array of initiatives in the criminal justice arena.
Soros is one of the most prominent and profligate supporters of leftist causes in America today. He supports a network of over thirty foundations internationally. But at the hub of his network is the Open Society Institute (OSI), a grant-making and operating entity founded in 1993 to promote his initiatives.
One of those causes is “to reduce the scale of incarceration in the United States.” So states the website of the U.S. Justice Fund—a program operating under the Open Society Institute umbrella. “The U.S. Justice Fund,” according to OSI’s website, “is the cornerstone of OSI’s strong commitment to reducing the excessive reliance on punishment and incarceration in the United States.”
Today, the U.S. Justice Fund plays a vanguard role in pushing the Excuse-Making Industry’s agenda. The Fund cites seven areas of interest, but two projects are central to its anti-punitive activities: its “Sentencing & Incarceration Alternatives Project” and its “Soros Justice Fellowships.”
George Soros's aim is to re-enact the very policies that led to the murder of Polly Klaas.
“Radical increases in rates of incarceration and increasingly severe criminal punishments threaten open society values by building a permanent underclass in the United States defined largely by race and income,” declares the Alternatives Project on its own Web page. Meanwhile, the Soros Justice Fellowships program doles out millions in grants to scholars, activists, journalists, documentarians, and lawyers who will “advance death penalty reform and abolition efforts,” “combat racial profiling,” “limit prison growth and prison privatization,” “reduce the length of criminal sentences,” and “promote alternatives to incarceration that emphasize rehabilitation and treatment.”
In other words, the Soros agenda is to re-enact the very policies that led to the murder of Polly Klaas.
Through these programs and others, OSI grants have gone to a virtual Who’s Who of the Excuse-Making Industry: Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation, the Tides Center and Tides Foundation, the ACLU Foundation, the Sentencing Project, National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Vera Institute for Justice, committees of the American Bar Association, plus a host of legal-aid groups and other advocates for criminals.
OSI astutely recognizes the importance of building a network of advocates to spread the word. For example, a 2003 fellowship was awarded to Michael Blain, a former prisoner, to “organize a network of inmates, former prisoners, and their families to participate in a national movement to advocate for prisoner’s right (sic) and criminal justice policy reform.” Another grant went to Lori Pompa at Temple University for a course “to foster dialogue between college students and incarcerated people.”
“Soros Justice Media Fellow Awards” brazenly bankroll reporters to communicate the Excuse-Makers’ claims in the media. Emily Bazelon, a senior editor for Legal Affairs, was given a 2004 grant to write articles to show how shifting power balances in courtrooms “make federal sentences more punitive.” David Feige, a writer and public defender, was paid “to write and record a series of commentaries on National Public Radio” while David Dent, a journalist and NYU journalism professor, got a Soros grant to write a book about a classmate serving a life sentence, criticizing underfunded mental health services, and describingthe socio-economic consequences of building prisons in rural areas.
OSI also pays for neatly slanted public opinion surveys—such as one claiming that “most Americans believe the country’s criminal justice system comprises an ineffective, purely punitive approach to crime” and favor “dealing with the roots of crime over strict sentencing by a two-to-one margin.” The OSI news release adds: “And at a time when 42 of the 50 states are running budget deficits, the survey findings could be instructive to legislators.” Such skewed poll results affirm the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”
With its formidable assets of cash and manpower, the Open Society Institute is more than filling the funding void left by the departure of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation from the criminal justice field. And Soros himself has been involved directly in political efforts to undermine strong criminal sanctions. In 1994, he chipped in $500,000 to promote the failed California ballot measure to end the “three strikes” law.
He’s not alone. There are many other individuals and groups in the Excuse-Making Industry. They compete and cooperate; they cite each other’s work and fund each other’s projects. What they say and do today will shape our legal institutions tomorrow, affecting the safety of our homes and communities.
For decades, they have operated quietly and largely out of sight. Now it’s time to put them, and their deadly agenda, under the public spotlight.

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