George Soros has made a name for himself as one of the most successful investors and the history of markets. Running his own hedge fund for the last 45 years, Soros has returned over 25 percent per annum, making him one of the most successful investors in human history.
My Soros has also been one of the most prominent philanthropist and political activist in recent history. From his efforts in the former Soviet states to his intervention and U.S. presidential politics, few people have had a greater effect on the overall political landscape of the world then George Soros.
One of Soros’ pet projects has long been criminal justice reform within the United States. Soros has long viewed the United States as having a backward and outdated justice system that has largely reflected a legacy of racism and second-class citizenship of minorities. This is reflected in the vastly disproportionate rates of incarceration between whites and minorities.
Soros has long sought to rectify what he views as this fundamental injustice. One of the ways in which he is currently going about effecting change within the criminal justice system is through the replacement of local conservative, hard line prosecutors with more progressive-minded candidates. Like his success in the market, George Soros has proven to be an adept strategist and formidable opponent to all who he has sought to replace.
This strategy has considerable merit. Within the United States, one of the most powerful elected officials at any level of government is the prosecutor for counties and cities. This fact lies with one of the unique tools of the U.S. criminal justice system, the plea bargain. While most people understand that prosecutors have great sway over who never gets charged or sent to prison in the first place, many people fail to grasp the extent of power that prosecutors in the United States wield over those who they do decide to charge with a crime. In fact, more than judges, juries or any other actor within the criminal justice system, it is prosecutors who decide whether or not somebody will ultimately go to jail and for how long. Read more about George at Washington Times.
The reason for this is quite simple. With the power of the plea bargain, prosecutors can threaten offenders with years or decades behind bars if they do not plead to the crime that the prosecutor wants them to be found guilty of. In many cases this has even led to defendants pleading guilty to crimes which they didn’t even commit. The simple threat of a 30 or 40 year prison sentence, for somebody who has committed only a minor crime, can often be enough to convince almost anyone to plead to a lesser offense.
The brilliance of Soros’ strategy is in recognizing this crucial and unique aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system. By replacing hardline prosecutors with more progressive individuals, the hammer of justice that is so powerfully wielded by America’s prosecutors can be applied with a softer touch, leading to a reduction in the outrageous disparities between whites and minorities in the United States’ criminal justice system. Read more on NYTimes.com.