The Accuracy, Equity, and Jurisprudence of Criminal Risk Assessment

21 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2019

See all articles by Sharad Goel

Sharad Goel

Stanford University

Ravi Shroff

New York University (NYU)

Jennifer L. Skeem

University of California, Berkeley

Christopher Slobogin

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Date Written: December 26, 2018

Abstract

Jurisdictions across the country, including the federal government through its recently enacted First Step Act, have begun using statistical algorithms (also called “instruments”) to help determine an arrestee’s or an offender’s risk of reoffending. These risk assessment instruments (RAIs) might be used at a number of points in the criminal process, including at the front-end by judges to impose a sentence after conviction, at the back-end by parole boards to make decisions about prison release, or in between these two points by correctional authorities determining the optimal security and service arrangements for an offender. At the pretrial stage, RAIs might come into play at the time of the bail or pretrial detention determination by a judge, which usually takes place shortly after arrest. The increased use of RAIs in the criminal justice system has given rise to several criticisms. RAIs are said to be no more accurate than clinical assessments, racially biased, lacking in transparency and, because of their quantitative nature, dehumanizing. This chapter critically examines a number of these concerns. It also highlights how the law has, and should, respond to these issues.

Suggested Citation

Goel, Sharad and Shroff, Ravi and Skeem, Jennifer L. and Slobogin, Christopher, The Accuracy, Equity, and Jurisprudence of Criminal Risk Assessment (December 26, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3306723 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3306723

Sharad Goel (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

475 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://5harad.com

Ravi Shroff

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Jennifer L. Skeem

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

120 Haviland Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7400
United States

Christopher Slobogin

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

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