Tags: san francisco | algorithms | modernize | bail | procedures

San Francisco Using Algorithms to Modernize Bail Procedures

Image: San Francisco Using Algorithms to Modernize Bail Procedures

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Aug 2016 02:58 PM

The city of San Francisco is experimenting with algorithms to bring better Intel to bail procedures, but like any new technology, it's only as good as humans' willingness to adopt, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Three months into using the software at no cost, the algorithm takes into account the following factors that results in a recommendation to judges and attorneys, according to the Chronicle:

  • Age
  • Pending charges
  • Rap sheet
  • Person's history of showing up to court

While the intent is there to remove human bias from bail decisions, it's still up to humans whether to accept the recommendations, and adoption has been slow.

"I think it has the potential to be a move in the right direction, but when it is watered down or misunderstood or rejected unreasonably, then it's not clear what good it will do," one public defender told the Chronicle. "We were excited about having more research and more data being brought into decision-making, but we've been disappointed."

One of 30 cities to experiment with the algorithm, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón ushered in the technology to address and quell complaints that the city's traditional bail system of using state guidelines unfairly punished poor people and minorities.

"We recognize that there is more work that needs to be done," Gascón told the Chronicle.

With public safety a top-line concern, the adoption rate may take a while.

"What I've seen in other jurisdictions and what I hope to see in San Francisco is that over time ... people will start to see the validity of the tool and start to buy in more and more," Matt Alsdorf, vice president of criminal justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which developed the algorithm, told the Chronicle.

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The city of San Francisco is experimenting with algorithms to bring better Intel to bail procedures, but like any new technology, it's only as good as humans' willingness to adopt, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
san francisco, algorithms, modernize, bail, procedures
290
2016-58-02
Tuesday, 02 Aug 2016 02:58 PM
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