BREAKING: Iowa Governor Shuts Down Arnold Foundation Pretrial Risk Assessment Effective December 31


Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds pulls the plug on the Arnold Foundation Pretrial Risk Assessment (PSA) effective December 31 rebuffing the legislature’s attempt to shut it down immediately.

June 1 2018


Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds vetoed the legislature’s attempt to immediately shut down the Arnold Foundation Pretrial Risk Assessment – choosing instead to wind-down the program by concluding Iowa’s participation on December 31, 2018 – pending legislative review.

While we commend the Iowa Legislature for taking a tough stand against the non-transparent and recently criticized Arnold Foundation Public Safety Assessment tool, we also commend

Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa

Governor Kim Reynolds for recognizing the problem of the PSA and also taking a measured approach.

Governor Reynolds vetoed a budget footnote that would have shut down the tool immediately.  Instead, the Governor ordered that the Executive Branch participation in the tool would conclude December 31 unless and until the legislature were to approve it.

This a major blow to the Arnold Foundation for one key reason—the legislature has already voted to shut down the tool immediately.  The idea that the Foundation is going to be able to then convince the legislature to reverse course will certainly be a tough road ahead for the program – regardless of what happens the remainder of the year.

Governor Reynolds, however, left the possibility open that the Arnold or other risk-assessment tool might be appropriate, but that would depend on making the case to the Iowa legislature, which is an appropriate judgment in terms of the comity of the branches.  That she said, however, would depend specifically on the presentation of data and a study of the risk assessment process to determine whether it worked.  This would likely include other issues concerning the operation of the tool – including whether it is race and gender neutral, and whether other measures of justice, such as the impact of victims, recidivism, and appearing in court, are fully taken into account.

We commend the legislature for taking a very strong stand, a stand that we agree with.  We believe that the Arnold Foundation’s continued lack of transparency alone is reason enough to immediately stop the program until the appropriate transparency can occur.  We also recognize that the Governor has to govern the State of Iowa, and so we commend her for taking a reasoned approach to letting the program wind-down and then forcing stakeholders to put the data and evidence on the table so that it can be properly evaluated so that there can indeed be sunshine and transparency in the process.

The American Bail Coalition will remain actively involved moving forward and looks forward to our continued participation in the evaluation process.


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