Lifestream, Pocket, One State is Replacing Bail Hearings With…An Algorithm


Guidelines for how judges set bail vary across the country, but generally use a combination of a bail schedule, which prices out fees for specific offenses, and their own assessment of whether the defendant will appear at their hearing or commit a crime before their trial.

via Pocket

An interesting use of algorithms in an attempt to overcome the bias of human decisions. However, it makes the point that the algorithm is reliant on the data it has, and the data itself (when it comes to data on arrests and convictions, for example) reflects the biases in ‘the status quo’. Breaking cycles of inequality and discrimination clearly takes more than intent.

As one respondent to the Pew Research Center’s survey on the future of algorithms noted,

  • “If you start at a place of inequality and you use algorithms to decide what is a likely outcome for a person/system, you inevitably reinforce inequalities.’