Twenty-Seven Prominent Researchers From MIT, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, UC Berkeley and Columbia Conclude Pretrial Risk Assessments Should Not be Used as a Means of Lowering Pretrial Jail Populations
October 1, 2019
In the last 2 months, 27 leading research scientists signed and issued an open statement concluding that "pretrial risk assessments suffer from serious technical flaws that undermine their accuracy, validity, and effectiveness."
The group also concluded the following about Pretrial Risk Assessments:
(1) They do not accurately measure the risks that judges are required by law to consider;
(2) When predicting flight and danger, many tools use inexact and overly broad definitions of those risks and when predicting violence, no tool available today can adequately distinguish one person’s risk of violence from another;
(3) To generate predictions, risk assessments rely on deeply flawed data
(4) Risk assessments incorporates historical data and this data into the algorithm and this data has shown that, for the same conduct, African-American and Latino people are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to harsher punishments than their white counterparts which will cause distortions of the data; and
(5) These problems cannot be resolved with technical fixes.
The 27 research scientists conclude, "We strongly recommend turning to other reforms."
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