George Soros has long had as one of his central philanthropic goals, the reformation of America’s criminal justice system. One of the ways in which he has sought to achieve this is by ending the wide array of laws and enforcement actions that are typically referred to as the War on Drugs. In Soros’ view, this campaign, which has lasted over the last 50 years, has been a great source of injustice and abridgment of US citizens’ individual rights. It has caused huge disparities in sentencing between minorities and whites as well as leading to many nonviolent drug offenders being incarcerated in some of the nation’s worst prisons.
Soros has recently started pursuing a new strategy, which has shown a great promise so far. Although it is still a bit early in the game, the results that Soros has generated through the funding of local prosecutorial, sheriff and judge elections have been extremely encouraging. In dozens of cases, Soros has managed to replace incumbent local officials who were staunch advocates of drug war policies. Visit Project Syndicate to learn more about George.
One of the areas in which George Soros has concentrated, which shows his brilliant ability to strategize effectively, is the election of new prosecutors. In the United States, prosecutors wield perhaps more power than any other job in the government. Although it is a low-level position, relatively speaking, prosecutors hold sway over people’s live in ways that no other elected official does. Prosecutors, ultimately, decide who will go to jail and who will remain free.
For this reason, Soros has set about to systematically begin electing more progressive-minded prosecutors who are willing to use their prosecutorial discretion to effect positive changes within the system.
But Soros’s efforts have not been limited just to prosecutorial races. One of his more famous forays into electoral politics over the last year has been the large contribution that his Open Societies Foundations made to the campaign of Paul Penzone, the man running against long-time incumbent Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County, Arizona. Penzone was hurting for fun when Soros stepped in and infused his campaign with almost $2 million. This provided a crucial boost to his funding, allowing for massive television advertisement as well as ads on the internet. The strategy ultimately worked, with Penzone healthily defeating Arpaio in the first loss for the incumbent in over 25 years as the Maricopa County Sheriff.
Many in conservative circles view Soros’ relentless intervention in the race as a bad thing; Penzone’s ascension to power represents a major shift in the politics of one of the Southwest’s largest metropolises. It is now expected that the county famous for making its inmates wear pink will, in the future, be more hospitable towards even its criminal class. George Soros established the Open Society Foundations.