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April 2, 2018

"Racial Equity in Algorithmic Criminal Justice"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper now available via SSRN authored by Aziz Huq. Here is its abstract:

Algorithmic tools for predicting violence and criminality are increasingly used in policing, bail, and sentencing contexts.  Although some attention has been given to their procedural due process implications, how these instruments interact with the enduring and complex racial legacies of the criminal justice system is presently not well understood.

This Article analyzes the questions of racial equity raised by these new predictive instruments using two lenses: constitutional doctrine and emerging technical standards of “algorithmic fairness.”  I demonstrate that constitutional doctrine is poorly adapted to addressing the range of racial issues that potentially arise with algorithmic criminal justice.  Instead, I demonstrate that the difficult questions of racial equity in this domain are best framed and evaluated though certain, but not all, emerging technical standards of algorithmic fairness.

April 2, 2018 at 03:43 PM | Permalink


If one is looking for the low hanging fruit in Decarceration, this point has been addressed several times in this blog.

Guy is late to court. Guy never got the notice to appear, show up a day late. The taxpayer should not have to punish him and itself by having him spend 3 months in prison as punishment. Make him community service, or fine him. Do not put people in prison for months for failing to appear. I do not know where the defense bar is when they allow such sentences, without appeal.

The average IQ among people in prison is 85, not 100. So, notices in tiny print with legal words, and complex sentences do not provide real notice. All notices should have some form of receipt, should be followed up with emails, texting, and phone calls, and should have a readability below the sixth grade. In Philly, this is hundreds of people locked up for no purpose.

Posted by: David Behar | Apr 2, 2018 10:11:50 PM

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