Pretrial Algorithms

The Bail Project / Newsroom  / Pretrial Algorithms

The Bail Project opposes the use of pretrial algorithms to help decide whether an individual is incarcerated pretrial. Together, with data scientists and legal scholars, we argue that pretrial algorithms, also known as risk assessment tools, disproportionately harm people of color, oversimplify complex individual and case outcomes, undermine standards of procedural justice, and rely on data that is inaccurate, outdated, and unreliable.

Poor people who receive welfare benefits from the state are increasingly at the mercy of cold, calculated algorithms that can cut off their assistance at any moment. Because being poor increases the chances of someone going to jail in America, people also face the prospect of judgement by pretrial algorithms, which purport to measure a person’s likelihood of committing a new crime or skipping court while out on bond.