Understanding Criminal Justice Innovations

Journal of Law & Innovation (2022 Forthcoming)

SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 562

16 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2022 Last revised: 4 Aug 2022

See all articles by Meghan J. Ryan

Meghan J. Ryan

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: June 14, 2022

Abstract

Burgeoning science and technology have provided the criminal justice system with the opportunity to address some of its shortcomings. And the criminal justice system has significant shortcomings. Among other issues, we have a mass incarceration problem; clearance rates are surprisingly low; there are serious concerns about wrongful convictions; and the system is layered with racial, religious, and other biases. Innovations that are widely used across industries, as well as those directed specifically at the criminal justice system, have the potential to improve upon such problems. But it is important to recognize that these innovations also have downsides, and criminal justice actors must proceed with caution and understand not only the potential of these interventions but also their limitations. Relevant to this calculation of caution is whether the innovation is broadly used across industry sectors or, rather, whether it has been specifically developed for use within the criminal justice system. These latter innovations have a record of not being sufficiently vetted for accuracy and reliability. Accordingly, criminal justice actors must be sufficiently well versed in basic science and technology so that they have the ability and the confidence to critically assess the usefulness of the various criminal justice innovations in light of their limitations. Considering lawyers’ general lack of competency in these areas, scientific and technological training is necessary to mold them into modern competent criminal justice actors. This training must be more than superficial subject-specific training, though; it must dig deeper, delving into critical thinking skills that include evaluating the accuracy and reliability of the innovation at issue, as well as assessing broader concerns such as the need for development transparency, possible intrusions on individual privacy, and incentives to curtail individual liberties given the innovation at hand.

Keywords: criminal justice, innovation, algorithms, science, technology, texting, digital discovery, bias, mass incarceration, surveillance, forensics, COMPAS

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Meghan J., Understanding Criminal Justice Innovations (June 14, 2022). Journal of Law & Innovation (2022 Forthcoming), SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 562, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4136813 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4136813

Meghan J. Ryan (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

HOME PAGE: https://www.smu.edu/Law/Faculty/Profiles/Ryan-Meghan-J

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
76
Abstract Views
390
rank
433,847
PlumX Metrics