If you asked people who they think has been behind the bail bonding reform movement some would probably say former California Governor Jerry Brown. Others might say former President Obama. And still others might say President Trump. Chances are good that 0 would say “The Arnold Foundation”. But while all of those political figures and many more have chimed in on the subject it was indeed the non-profit Arnold Foundation - founded by a former executive of the disgraced Enron Corporation - that has pushed most aggressively for what has passed for bail reform over the past decade.
These days, the folks at Arnold are busy trying to distance themselves from the coast to coast calamity they’ve created. Going so far as to renounce their non-profit status and change the name of their organization to Arnold Ventures. Why they’ve even issued a new 5 point plan to ‘fix’ the bail system and guess what? Their risk assessment algorithm isn’t part of it. That’s pretty strange considering they spent the better part of the past decade trying - with varying degrees of success - to shove it down the throats of taxpayers nationwide. In the process causing untold damage to the criminal justice system and making our streets more dangerous.
Every once in a while though they pop their heads above water to try and defend their sorry legacy. Instead of just admitting they messed up, damaged the social fabric and lied to taxpayers. They act like a kid who’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The excuses fly thick and heavy, accompanied by their latest phony, self-financed ‘research’. All in a futile attempt to mask the truth behind a blizzard of bs.
The truth is that the Arnold Risk Assessment Algorithm and the no-bondsman, catch and release form of criminal justice ‘reform’ Arnold has been pushing don’t work. Instead of a more just and equal system statistics prove that abandoning bail creates a societal train wreck of unprecedented proportions. So it’s no wonder that:
In Kentucky a 5 year study has revealed what everyone with their eyes and ears open already knew. That the Arnold algorithm was creating a state of lawlessness where no one was being held accountable and law enforcement was overwhelmed. The study showed court no-shows spiked (meaning no justice for victims of crime) and the number of those who committed another crime after being released without bail also spiked. Not only that, but the number of people being held over for trial steadily increased during the study period. This was exactly the opposite of what the Arnold Foundation mouthpieces said would happen. As a result the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court and other state leaders are calling for a repeal of the state’s bail reform initiative.
They’re Not Alone. During the course of this year one horror story has followed another in states that have abandoned bail bonds. Each miscarriage of justice has spurred more and more influential people and organizations to call for an end to the use of the Arnold Risk Assessment Algorithm. That includes civil rights organizations, prosecutors, organizations representing judges and even the staunchly anti-bail ACLU, who lobbied against California’s bail reform measure.
If Arnold Ventures believed in what they’d done they would be out there vigorously defending it with a parade of legal experts on their side. Instead, they’ve chosen to slink away, change their name and try and disappear into the woodwork. All the while carrying out feeble rear guard actions in an attempt to diffuse anger and save face. But people deserve more than excuses from Arnold. They deserve an apology. Apparently, however, no one at Arnold has enough integrity to issue one.
Instead what we get are more cringe-worthy attempts at self-justification. Such as their new claim that research supports the notion that their bail reform efforts are working in New Jersey. The ‘research’ they point to was conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation of New York. Any idea who funded this research? If you said the Arnold Foundation give yourself a pat on the back. You know a con when you see one.
The good people of Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and Denver County saw through the long con the Arnold Foundation - ooops, we mean Arnold Ventures - was playing and kicked them to the curb. Their brave action no doubt inspired others in other states to stand up and voice opposition to catch and release non-justice. Now that resistance has spread nationwide and has reached such a level that the main actors behind the whole sorry charade have cut and run. The Arnold Foundation may be no more. But there is still a lot of work left to undo the damage they’ve done.