Who IS the the real Dr. Van Nostrand: Beloved character from a famed sitcom or secret data manipulator for the Arnold Foundation?
As we have continued to figure out how the Laura and John Arnold Foundation have built their algorithm that is transforming bail and conditions of release in the United States, we continue to learn more each day about who built the algorithm and their own biases and tendencies.
One key character in the bail reform saga is none other than Dr. Van Nostrand.
Not the Dr. Van Nostrand you are thinking of…
Not the Dr. Van Nostrand who tried to lift Elaine’s medical records from the doctor’s office, the Dr. Van Nostrand who posed as a dermatologist in the famous episode “The Slicer, or even the Dr. Van Nostrand who attended “Festivus” Dinner and auditioned for the part of “Kramer” in “The Pilot.”
And most certainly not the Dr. Van Nostrand who posed as an English professor proclaiming that Shakespeare was a fraud.
No, this Dr. Van Nostrand is a secret data implementer and manipulator for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. She co-founded a for-profit criminal justice consulting firm called Luminosity and has made a ton of money since founding that business over 15 years ago.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say she might have a direct financial interest in how things turn out in the “no money bail movement” debate since her firm piles up cash helping governments create new risk-based bureaucracies, which cost them cash, so then criminal defendants don’t have to worry about cash.
In point of fact, one only needs to take a quick look at the Arnold Foundation’s tax returns to figure out the degree of a financial interest Van Nostrand and Luminosity has in the outcome, despite any claims she may make regarding her scientific objectivity.
But it’s more than just that—in a recent article it was revealed that Dr. Van Nostrand is indeed one of the key faces behind the curtain of the Arnold Foundation tool. The publication indicated that Dr. Van Nostrand indeed is the “expert behind a data tool touted as a cure for overcrowding” known as the Arnold Foundation’s Public Safety Risk Assessment tool.
On Dr. Van Nostrand’s website, it is stated, “New Jersey will now use the Public Safety Assessment pretrial risk assessment developed by Luminosity researchers for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.”
This Dr. Van Nostrand also plays judge, jury, and prosecutor—building computer risk systems and then writing reports on how great they work.
Not only did she assist in developing the Arnold Foundation tool and much of the research used by the Arnold Foundation, it has also been determined that she is also the person who in part validates that it works.
In fact, in a 2014 report by the Arnold Foundation on the first six months of the alleged success in Kentucky, which was later discredited by Professor Megan Stevenson of George Mason University, was concocted by Dr. Van Nostrand. According to the Arnold Foundation, “The underlying analysis was conducted by a research team led by Dr. Marie VanNostrand.” Said Professor Stevenson: “This study has recently been removed from the Arnold Foundation’s website but is on file with the author. Representatives of the Arnold Foundation explained that it was removed due to concerns about the quality of the data used in the report.”
Of course, Stevenson later debunked the entire study, showing that the Arnold Foundation tool had a trivial impact on reducing jail populations, and increased failures to appear in court and new crimes while out on bail.
Dr. Van Nostrand has also been raised as an example of the dangers of research conducted by those with a profit motive who may escape peer-review. In a farcical but entertaining article written by John H. McCool, Dr. Van Nostrand enters the picture again, this time as a doctor of urology conducting research at the “Arthur Vandelay Urological Research Institute.” This piece was a play on the classic season 3 episode, “The Parking Lot.”
On the other hand, the other Dr. Van Nostrand also has problems with peer-review and for-profit research.
How can this Dr. Van Nostrand be objective if she is basically checking and validating her own work, and making another layer of profit on top of that?
In fact, this Dr. Van Nostrand testified in a federal civil rights case, as described by one reporter…
“[w]earing a gray jacket and purple shirt, she sounded like a proud mother as she described how the tool will let pretrial services staff briskly assess an arrestee’s qualification for a no-fee bond.”
What did she say? You’ll be surprised to learn that pretrial justice reforms and risk-assessments work. Of course, they have to—otherwise this Dr. Van Nostrand is out of a job.
At bottom, the real Dr. Van Nostrand is not a character on a sitcom—the real Dr. Van Nostrand is one of John Arnold’s secret data manipulators, hiding behind a veil of secrecy including contractual protections and trade secrets that prevent the rest of the world from questioning her or even checking her work.
At the end of the day, this Dr. Van Nostrand has a profit motive to eliminate the right to bail as we know it, and so instead Dr. Van Nostrand may as well be conducting work for H.E. Pennypacker, “Wealthy Industrialist,” over at the “Arthur Vandelay Institute for the Creation and Perpetuation of No Money Bail Systems.”
Who is the REAL Dr. Van Nostrand?
Will the real Dr. Van Nostrand – the self-promoting, self-validating, and financially motivated one – please stand up?