Courts Are Using AI to Sentence Criminals. That Must Stop Now | WIRED

Opinion: Courts should pause the use of algorithms for criminal sentencing.

Currently, courts and corrections departments around the US use algorithms to determine a defendant’s “risk”, which ranges from the probability that an individual will commit another crime to the likelihood a defendant will appear for his or her court date. These algorithmic outputs inform decisions about bail, sentencing, and parole. Each tool aspires to improve on the accuracy of human decision-making that allows for a better allocation of finite resources.

Typically, government agencies do not write their own algorithms; they buy them from private businesses. This often means the algorithm is proprietary or “black boxed”, meaning only the owners, and to a limited degree the purchaser, can see how the software makes decisions.

This lack of transparency has real consequences.

how does a judge weigh the validity of a risk-assessment tool if she cannot understand its decision-making process?

To accept AI in our courts without a plan is to defer to machines in a way that should make any advocate of judicial or prosecutorial discretion uncomfortable.

Source: Courts Are Using AI to Sentence Criminals. That Must Stop Now | WIRED, by Jason Tashea