An article for Law360 entitled “Risk Assessment Tools Are Not A Failed ‘Minority Report’” discusses the use of risk assessment tools used by judges in criminal cases. The article comes in response to a New York Times op-ed which implied that risk assessment tools make future violence seem more predictable than it actually is.
The article argues that due to the increasing problems and rising concerns from mass incarnation rates, making the effort, and investing the time and resources to “get risk assessment right” is not only worth it but will ultimately become necessary. The authors suggest that “to call risk assessment fundamentally flawed suggests that we should abandon reforms and keep things the way they are.” They argue instead, the solution is to be able to give judges the most information possible, to enable them to relay on statistics and empirical data, presented correctly, to make the best decision.
The authors make note of ALI’s recent updates to the Model Penal Code: Sentencing, which supports the use of risk assessment tools if used correctly, to divert people to shorter prison terms or to the community. They suggest that the focus should be on improving these tools instead of simply pointing out their deficiencies.
“While risk assessment tools may not eliminate racial, ethnic or other biases, there is no evidence that they exacerbate them either. Risk assessment tools and the promise they hold to improve on judges’ and magistrates’ current decision-making processes should not be dismissed simply because they aren’t yet perfect.”
Read the full article here.