Mass Incarceration

Texas billionaire John Arnold bankrolls efforts to overhaul Indiana’s criminal justice system

Texas billionaire and former Enron government John Arnold is behind criminal justice reform initiatives within the state of Indiana that specialists warn elevate purple flags amid latest crime spikes throughout america, in line with information reviewed by the Washington Examiner.

The U.S. has seen main violent crime will increase in recent times, particularly throughout 2020’s racial justice riots, which roughly coincided with rich donors supporting plans, corresponding to cashless bail, that Republicans argue led to criminals strolling free. Arnold and his spouse Laura Arnold’s purportedly “nonpartisan” restricted legal responsibility company, Arnold Ventures, has awarded grants since 2019 for “racial justice” analysis and the event of Indiana coverage blueprints that some legal justice specialists say may hurt public security if made into legislation.


“Indiana already bought a style of the Left’s pro-crime agenda in 2021, when the Indianapolis Bail Undertaking paid to launch two males who then dedicated homicide whereas out on bail,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) advised the Washington Examiner, referring to a bail group that obtained over $175,000 between 2018 and 2019 from AV and has been restricted after Indiana’s legislature handed a bill stopping it from bailing out criminals.

“Hoosiers rejected these insurance policies for a cause. Out-of-state billionaires gained’t discover sympathy for a liberal, soft-on-crime agenda in Indiana. Home Republicans ought to move my invoice to defund state and native prosecutors who refuse to implement the legislation,” added the congressman, who launched a measure in October 2022 that will block Justice Department grants to areas that implement cashless bail.

Arnold’s donations to quite a lot of left-leaning causes by way of the years, including to groups linked to the movement aiming to combat purported “disinformation,” have stayed comparatively obscure. On the similar time, nonetheless, the philanthropist has supported right-leaning points, corresponding to schooling and pension reform.

As an LLC, Arnold Ventures isn’t required to reveal who it sends grants to. The group has a grants database on its web site, however the public has no approach of totally verifying whether or not or not the database contains all of its awards. AV has stated that it granted out over $409 million in 2021.

In 2019, AV announced an nearly $2.5 million grant to the Analysis Basis of the Metropolis College of New York, a well being group chartered in 1963 by New York’s authorities. The grant was to “develop, launch, and handle” the Lowering Revocations Problem, which was created to rework probation supervision and cut back jail populations.

One of many 10 collaborating jurisdictions for the initiative was Monroe County, Indiana, according to the CUNY Institute for State and Native Governance, a assume tank. As a part of the initiative, the county’s probation division and Indiana College launched a report in June 2021 itemizing a number of alleged “methods” to maintain offenders out of jail.

Monroe County didn’t obtain money by way of the AV grant, which was directed to Indiana College, in line with a supply near AV and accustomed to its giving operations. The college pulled in over $198,000, stated the supply.

Methods listed within the report included making a “non-punitive warrant service,” launching a sort of court docket to course of “technical” probation violations, and eradicating fee of fines and charges as a “customary situation” of probation. The report additionally known as for probation officers to be skilled on “racial fairness and implicit bias,” two concepts Republicans have linked to crucial race concept, which holds that the U.S. is systemically racist, but teaches folks to view others by way of race.

“Arnold Ventures’ objective with the Lowering Revocations Problem is to assist probation departments in creating evidence-based methods to extend effectiveness of supervision by way of lowering failures, after which share these learnings extra broadly,” an Arnold Ventures spokesperson advised the Washington Examiner.

However the insurance policies outlined within the June 2021 report as a part of the problem are “indifferent from actuality,” in line with Charles Stimson, a former assistant U.S. lawyer for the District of Columbia who now manages the Heritage Basis’s Nationwide Safety Regulation Program. A “technical” court docket would end in crime cycles repeating and be costly for the federal government, he advised the Washington Examiner.

Rafael A. Mangual, analysis head for the Manhattan Institute’s Policing and Public Security Initiative, stated these selling “technical” violations reform appear to assume there is a “mass incarceration” problem, particularly for folks doing issues corresponding to failing a drug take a look at or lacking required appointments. However the coverage concept “obscures” that individuals are typically despatched again to jail for a number of violations or new legal fees, Mangual advised the Washington Examiner.

“Recidivism knowledge truly speaks volumes right here,” he stated. “In case you take a look at individuals who undergo the jail system in america, someplace between 80% and 83% of people who find themselves launched from state prisons are going to re-offend and be rearrested, and charged with against the law.”

Shut-up of male prisoners’ ft in chains.

(mediaphotos/Getty Photographs/iStockphoto)

Within the second section of the Lowering Revocations Problem, which is ongoing, AV despatched $128,000 to Indiana College, and $170,000 was subgranted to the Monroe County probation division, in line with the supply near AV. The batch of funding was a part of an over $3.1 million AV grant in 2021 to the Analysis Basis of the Metropolis College of New York, records present.

In 2021, AV launched its personal report saying it might like prosecutors to be “dedicated to racial fairness” and “use punitive measures sparingly.” The report claimed mass incarceration has unfairly affected minorities and that black individuals are “over-policed, over-prosecuted, and over-incarcerated compared to their white counterparts.”

Round one yr later, AV announced an over $603,000 grant to Indiana College “to check prosecutorial discretion in site visitors and misdemeanor instances” and “enhance transparency and accountability” in Monroe County and Lake County, Indiana. The grant, which is a part of a $7.4 million AV grants pledge for prosecutor analysis in 19 states, has a time period of 2022 to 2025, according to AV’s web site.

The Indiana undertaking has truly been dubbed “Selling Racial Justice and Transparency in Indiana,” in line with Monroe County assembly minutes from April 2022 reviewed by the Washington Examiner.

One of many undertaking leads listed by AV on its web site is Tri Keah Henry, an Indiana College legal justice professor. Henry said amid the 2020 riots that “defunding the police is not as deep” as folks “are making it out to be,” noting it is “an inexpensive dialog to have.”

Cities throughout the U.S. have backpedaled on efforts to defund police departments following violent crime surges. The defund motion coincided with officers quitting in record numbers, corresponding to in New York.

“The concern that we must always at all times have behind our minds, relating to makes an attempt to divert folks from the legal justice system, is whether it is only a solution to in the end pursue decarceration for its personal sake,” stated Mangual. “Or are we doing this in a really sensible, measured approach on the margins the place we’re very rigorously focusing on individuals who do not truly pose a major danger to society?”


The concepts outlined within the AV-backed “racial justice” analysis are a “purple flag” as a result of it means criminals, a lot of whom are statistically minorities, will stroll free, in line with Barry Latzer, a criminologist and emeritus professor on the John Jay School of Legal Justice.

“If they are going to use racial quotas for who will get in jail, that is a foul concept to start with as a result of it’s a must to look and see who does the crime,” Latzer advised the Washington Examiner. “You possibly can’t have racial quotas for offenders. Blacks have fairly excessive arrest charges as a result of they’ve excessive offending charges.”

Arnold’s funding of legal justice reform in Indiana occurred across the similar time he poured greater than $45 million into legal justice reform efforts in New York.

Some teams that obtained the funds, together with the Vera Institute, a progressive nonprofit group that has supported defunding the police, lobbied in favor of a controversial 2019 bail reform by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The legislation banned money bail for all however essentially the most excessive felonies and misdemeanors and was partially rolled again in 2020 and 2022.

Bail reform has been a heated subject in Indiana, the place the Bail Undertaking group helped get killers free, according to multiple reviews. In June 2022, a choose denied the Bail Undertaking’s request to cease Indiana’s authorities from imposing restrictions on charities posting bail for criminals.

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