Sunday, July 17, 2022

New algorithm can predict unfair criminal sentences

A new set of algorithms, created by members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Idaho Justice Project and the University of Pennsylvania, aims to assess the likelihood of defendants being mistreated in court, reports Government Technology, according to The Crime Report. The tool considers details that ought to be immaterial to the ruling — such as the judge’s and defendant’s gender and race — and then predicts how likely the judge is to award an unusually long sentence.

The predictions can suggest when socio-demographic details may sway judgments, resulting in especially punitive treatments. The algorithms’ designers say it’s the first to consider a defendant’s perspective. In a recent report, the group also suggested that potentially wronged defendants could use the second algorithm — the one assessing the likelihood that bias played a role — to argue for reducing sentences that may have been unfair. However, like other predictive algorithms, the tool draws on historical data, which could limit how accurately it can reflect today’s landscape.

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