High Court Won’t Hear Risk-Assessment Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Wisconsin man who was sentenced to six years in prison by a judge who consulted the results of a controversial risk assessment algorithm, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Eric Loomis of La Crosse was charged with five felony counts in a 2013 drive-by shooting. The judge told Loomis he was a high risk to his community, citing the man’s score on the COMPAS assessment, a software tool used to measure offenders’ chances of committing future crimes.

Loomis argued that the use of the score violated his rights to due process, pointing to the proprietary nature of the COMPAS assessment. It is a product of a for-profit company, Northpointe, that does not disclose publicly the basis for its assessments. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Loomis, saying that the COMPAS scores, if used “properly,” do not violate due process. An investigation by ProPublica contended that risk assessment scores like those generated by COMPAS are unreliable and racially biased.

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