Have disagreements over a risk-assessment tool in Philadelphia’s bail-bond system wrecked a spirit of collaboration in the city’s criminal justice reform movement? The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that District Attorney Larry Krasner and Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey withdrew their support for the grant-funded development of an algorithmic tool meant to help determine whether to release individuals awaiting trial, arguing with the local bench that the tool has become a roadblock to ending cash bail.
The DA and public defender say a lack of transparency about the tool compounds worries that such tools can end up reflecting and enforcing racial disparities. That puts them at odds with city and court leaders, who have emphasized that no major jurisdiction has eliminated the use of money bail without a risk tool. Such tools are in use in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., which have led on bail reform. The dispute upends three years of progress, funded in large part by the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, to transform the city’s justice system and cut the jail population. Today, the jail population is just over half what it was in 2015.