Laura and John Arnold Foundation's "neutrality" on bail reform just a facade?

Arnold Foundation Hires Bill Clinton’s Former Lawyer to Clarify The Foundation’s Complete Lack of Neutrality on Bail Reform.

by Jeff Clayton, Executive Director, American Bail Coalition

The Public Safety Assessment, a proprietary algorithm created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (hereinafter, “Arnold Foundation”), with the stated intent to use big-data to “moneyball” the criminal justice system, has been presented to public officials in numerous jurisdictions as simply an additional tool to help judges make better bail decisions by incorporating the risk of the defendant into such decisions. The Foundation posits itself as merely the neutral data-scientists helping to collect and analyze such information.

Former U.S. Solicitor Paul Clement recently filed a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey, arguing that the new no-money bail system, which uses the Arnold Foundation tool, instead violates the federal constitution. That case is Holland v. Rosen, now pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, in another federal case, Rodgers v. Arnold Foundation, et. al., the Arnold Foundation is being sued for products liability and wrongful death in New Jersey because their risk-tool counted a prior felon in possession of a firearm with a record a mile long as low-risk, only to be released on his own recognizance and then brutally murder another man days later.

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In the Arnold Foundation’s now-unveiled quest to end money bail using a secret, proprietary algorithm, the Arnold Foundation has now opened up their significant war-chest to hire Bill Clinton’s former Solicitor General of the United States to advocate in favor of New Jersey’s no-money bail system. In the filing dated December 15, 2017, the Former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, a known supporter of progressive causes, makes clear what we knew all along—the Arnold Foundation produced its research and designed its algorithm in order to eliminate monetary bail in the United States by implementing the New Jersey system. In addition, the Arnold Foundation makes it absolutely clear that is against all use of the private bail system in the United States of America.

Yet, there is one big problem—most states have not and will not change their state constitutions or state statutes to embrace the Arnold Foundation’s ideologies, ideologies it shares with groups funded by billionaire George Soros such as the Pretrial Justice Institute. Elimination of the constitutional right to bail requires the changing of such constitutions, which now the Arnold Foundation has revealed it absolutely supports.

The Arnold Foundation Advocates for the No-Money Bail System Implemented in New Jersey

“By this lawsuit, plaintiffs want to reverse New Jersey’s progress toward a safer and fairer criminal justice system. They would restore a money-bail system that discriminates based on wealth, ineffectively addresses the risk of pretrial failures, and opens the door to constitutional violations. But plaintiffs’ legal theories are meritless and their injunction would disserve the public interest, as the District Court rightly concluded. LJAF, a committed supporter of pretrial justice reform, has a strong interest in seeing this conclusion affirmed.”

The Arnold Foundation Advocates for the Adoption of the New Jersey System and Thus the Elimination of Bail in the System

“In sum, risk regimes and nonmonetary conditions succeed where money bail fails. Empirical studies following the nationwide trend toward reform in jurisdictions across the country confirm this. And there is no better example than New Jersey, today a safer and fairer place because of the CJRA.”

So, next time policy-makers are told that the Arnold Foundation is simply a neutral, caring, humanitarian, agenda-free third-party group funded by a billionaire former-hedge fund manager offering a free computer system to fix the ills of the criminal justice system…they might want to ask the Arnold foundation why they hired the most prominent appellate lawyer of our time to publicly advocate on their behalf.

Certainly, the current users of the tool may want to start asking some serious questions, such as how can we square the operation of the tool if it was specifically designed to eliminate the constitutional right to bail that nearly all state constitutions afford to a criminal defendant?

Clearly, the façade of neutral and unbiased science over at the Arnold Foundation has now evaporated more quickly than scarce water in a drought.

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