Tools that use algorithms to determine whether to detain accused individuals before a trial are increasingly being used across the country as an alternative to the bail system. But the vice president of the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys argues that the tools also lead to tragedies.
New Jersey’s use of an algorithm to advise judges on pretrial release “is what the new vision of American justice looks like,” NBC News reports. Six months into the new practice, New Jersey jails are already starting to empty, and the number of people locked up while awaiting trial has dropped.
The proposal by Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Rand Paul would authorize total spending of $10 million a year for states that replace cash bail with a system that considers community risk, not a defendant’s ability to pay. New Jersey has already moved forward with a system that some call a model for the nation.
A man was released on a charge of trying to punch a police officer; three weeks later, he was charged with murder. New York does not let judges consider a defendant’s possible danger to the public when setting bail.
As little as three days behind bars has been shown to make someone more likely to be rearrested later. So requiring individuals to put up money bail or await their trial behind bars not only discriminates against the poor, but risks public safety.
Attorney-General Eric Holder's August 1 speech criticizing the use of risk assessment in sentencing decisions may not lever the issue to the top of the policy agenda. But a new paper could revive the debate about the effectiveness of risk tools in evaluating the chances of recidivism among those convicted of sex crimes. A forthcoming article in the Arizona State Law Journal argues that state criminal justice systems which use risk assessment tools may overestimate sex offenders' likelihood of committing […]