There is a better way: treat people like individuals rather than statistical “risk scores” and focus on disrupting the cycles of poverty and vulnerability that keep so many trapped in the revolving door of mass incarceration.
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.
Risk assessment tools were supposed to make the way Kentucky courts released defendants from pretrial incarceration more fair. Instead, they benefited defendants who were whiter and wealthier than others, making disparities worse.
A closer look at judgement by algorithm in Chicago, where the use of “risk assessment tools” have failed to accurately predict violent crime among those they claim are most at risk of committing it.