Two Pennsylvania counties use the same lenient bail-calculation system that is used in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin and that is now being scrutinized in the wake of the November 21 Waukesha Christmas parade massacre.
Suspect Darrell E. Brooks Jr. faces homicide charges for killing six people at the holiday celebration with his car. Earlier that month, prosecutors handling a case of physical abuse and vehicular assault regarding Brooks asked a court to set bail bond for the defendant at a mere $1,000, to which the court agreed.
This matter has thrust John Arnold, the far-left philanthropist who created the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) bail calculator, into the public’s attention. The website of Arnold’s company Advancing Pretrial Policy Research (APPR) has noted that four states—Arizona, Kentucky, New Jersey and Utah—use Arnold’s product, as do three cities and 55 counties. In the Keystone State, those counties include Montgomery, which borders Philadelphia to the north, and Allegheny, which includes Pittsburgh.
The PSA purports to take into account factors such as age, the severity of offense and the defendant’s prior record in determining the level of risk that the defendant may skip bail or otherwise run afoul of the law in the run-up to his or her trial.
Arnold, who began providing the assessment tool to jurisdictions free of charge in 2018, has lashed out at critics and suggested the Brooks case should not hurt his crusade for softer bail policy, suggesting that an earlier assessment of the defendant “flagged a potential need for preventative detention.”
“So much of the debate about the criminal justice system is framed as ‘tough-on-crime’ vs. ‘reform,’” Arnold wrote in an online statement. “But a system that allows the dangerous yet wealthy to buy their freedom pretrial is hardly tough on crime. It is tough on the poor and working class who get stuck behind bars simply because they can’t write a check.”
APPR’s website notes that Arnold Ventures, the foundation Arnold heads alongside his wife Laura, aims to “reform every aspect of the pretrial system—from policing to bail; prosecution to public defense” in order to “decarcerate” (i.e., reduce the prison population) and to “promote racial justice.”
Justin Danhof, general counsel for the D.C.-based National Center for Public Policy Research, has likened the Arnolds’ role as a left-wing philanthropist to George Soros, a billionaire notorious for funding numerous far-left causes including efforts to soften criminal justice and elect lenient district attorneys.
“From abortion, to anti-Second Amendment work, to liberal ‘investigative’ journalism, to single-payer health care, the Arnolds fund the gamut of far-left causes,” Arnold wrote in Investor’s Business Daily in 2018.
Thomas McCaffrey, criminal court administrator for the 5th Judicial District of Pennsylvania in Allegheny County is listed on APPR’s website as a member of the organization’s Pretrial Practitioner Network (PPN). The PPN is a group of judges and other criminal-justice professionals that propound APPR’s views on pretrial practices. McCaffrey could not be reached for comment.
Montgomery County’s communications office also did not return a call for comment on its use of the PSA system.
– – –