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Arnold Ventures’ Multimillion-Dollar Contribution Bolsters the Organization’s Efforts to Eliminate Outdated Probation Policies

NEW YORK – Today, the REFORM Alliance announced that philanthropist and attorney Laura Arnold has joined the organization’s group of founding partners, which includes leaders from the worlds of sports, business and entertainment.

Arnold Ventures Co-Chair Laura Arnold joins the REFORM Alliance as a Founding Partner. (Todd Spoth photo)

Like her fellow founding partners, Arnold has made a multimillion-dollar contribution to the organization through her own philanthropic group, Arnold Ventures, which has devoted significant resources to help eliminate outdated probation policies that perpetuate injustice across the United States.

“America needs bold, visionary, systemic change to its criminal justice system,” said Arnold. “The kind of change that doesn’t settle for tweaks to the status quo, but asks instead how we would design our system if we had the chance to do it over, in the smartest and fairest ways possible. REFORM shares this vision, and is importantly led by people with diverse political perspectives and people with direct experience in the criminal justice system. Arnold Ventures is proud to support them.”

Co-founded by Arnold and her husband, John, Arnold Ventures is dedicated to identifying and addressing society’s pressing problems in four key areas—criminal justice, education, health and public finance.

On the issue of criminal justice alone, Arnold Ventures has committed $250 million in grants toward research and advocacy efforts, focusing on reforming the criminal justice system wholesale, from policing and pretrial to prison, community supervision, and reintegration reform. The organization supports evidence-based policies and practices that protect community safety while significantly reducing incarceration, advancing fairness, effectiveness, and racial equity in the justice system.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Laura as a founding partner,” REFORM Alliance co-chair Michael Rubin said. “Her passion and experience will be critical to achieving our goal to free at least one million people who are unfairly trapped in the criminal justice system by 2023 while keeping communities safe.”

Laura Arnold joins REFORM Alliance Founding Partner and Co-Chair Michael Rubin, left, and CEO Van Jones.

“Laura is one of the leading minds and mobilizers on criminal justice reform and we’re fortunate to have her on our team,” REFORM Alliance CEO Van Jones said. “Her addition to our founding board will strengthen our platform and bring more experience in this fight. Together, we’ll continue driving the national conversation around reform and inspiring people to take action through public advocacy.”

Nationwide, more than 4.5 million people—or 1 in 55—are on probation or parole. It’s the largest segment of the criminal justice system, and would constitute the second-largest city in America by population—yet has historically received little attention.

Community supervision is intended to serve as an alternative to incarceration, but over time has evolved into one of the largest drivers of prison admissions in many states. Hundreds of thousands are behind bars each year because they violate the terms of their probation. In fact, new research shows 45 percent of all state prison admissions are due to supervision failures. Technical violations, such as missing an appointment or failing a drug test, make up a quarter of all prison admissions.

Prior to joining REFORM, Arnold hosted co-chair Meek Mill on her podcast “Deep Dive with Laura Arnold,” where they discussed the bevy of challenges affecting millions of Americans on probation.

Most recently, REFORM supported the introduction of the Smart Probation Act (HB1555) in the Pennsylvania legislature, alongside a bipartisan coalition of state representatives and advocacy groups. HB1555 was designed to implement caps on probationary periods and offer credits for people on probation seeking rehabilitative programming. REFORM has also supported SB14 in the Pennsylvania Senate, which has aimed to limit the negative impact of the revolving door of probation by incentivizing compliance and success while on supervision.

To learn more about REFORM Alliance, visit reformalliance.com and follow @REFORM on social media. 

About REFORM Alliance

The REFORM Alliance is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and eradicating laws and policies that perpetuate injustice in the United States. To achieve that objective, REFORM will pass probation bills at the state level, use media to amplify the need for comprehensive reform and build an inclusive, bipartisan alliance of leaders who share a vision for ambitiously and efficiently transforming the criminal justice system. 

REFORM’s founding partners include award-winning recording artist Meek Mill; Philadelphia 76ers co-owner and Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin; entrepreneur and business mogul Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter; Kraft Group CEO and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; Brooklyn Nets co-owner and philanthropic investor Clara Wu Tsai; Third Point LLC CEO and founder Daniel S. Loeb; Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael E. Novogratz; Vista Equity Partners founder, chairman, and CEO Robert F. Smith; Arnold Ventures co-founder Laura Arnold. CNN host, author, and activist Van Jones is the CEO.