Philadelphia criminal justice system activates new tool to predict recidivism.
Recidivism in the US

Philadelphia’s New Technology to Predict Recidivism Without Race

Philadelphia has innovated a new technology that can predict recidivism. It’s a new tool designed to predict whether an inmate will re-offend, won’t factor in race. However, it will consider prior convictions.

Philadelphia criminal justice system activates new tool to predict recidivism.
Philadelphia criminal justice system activates new tool to predict recidivism. Image Source: The Atlantic

With the help of the tool, the newly arrested suspects will be welcomed to the criminal justice system of Philadelphia. As soon as you get there, you’ll be taken to a particular room where you’ll be assigned a bail.

In a short time, the judge or magistrate will have three options, based on your criminal record:

  • Let you go
  • Set your bail very expensive
  • Deny you a bail at all

Both those who will be denied cash bails and those who won’t afford to pay for their cash bails will await their trials in a jail cell, State Road.

Predict Recidivism: Contributions New Philadelphia’s Assessment Tool Will Bring

Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world's people & 25% of the world's prisoners. NAACP
Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world’s people & 25% of the world’s prisoners. NAACP

Currently, Philadelphia’s criminal justice system uses a manual system to assign bails. So the city officials have partnered with data scientists to design an automated risk analysis tool that can help predict recidivism.

The tool will consider various factors and assign a defendant with either label:

  • Low-risk
  • Medium-risk
  • High-risk
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It’s from there that the bail will be assigned. The goal of adopting this system is to:

  • Reduce the number of pretrial defendants in jails
  • End cash bail altogether

Although the advocates of Criminal justice reform see the objective as a good one, there’s a critical concern.

The fear is that, yes the automated risk assessment tool will predict recidivism. But it could do so by considering some critical factors such as:

  • Race
  • Socioeconomic status

If that happens, then eventually the tool will end up:

  • Incarcerating even more brown and black defendants
  • Allow even more white suspects to go free

However, the concerned officials have argued that Philadelphia’s recidivism assessment tool will take care of that. They explained that the device wouldn’t factor in:

  • Race
  • Zip code

Predict Recidivism Tool: New Philadelphia’s Recidivism Tool Will Promote Racism

On the contrary, social advocates argue that, yes exclusion of race as a determinant is a good idea in the predict recidivism tool. But accommodating factors like arrest history, job status, and conviction record will eventually sneak in the issue of “racism.”

This is because many convictions have usually been caused by systematic racist issues like unemployment. Therefore using conviction records and one’s job status as determinants of one’s dangerousness is being racist already.

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The development Philadelphia predict recidivism assessment tool is among the several strategies being implemented in Philadelphia. The aim is cut Philadelphia’s prison population by a third in three years.

McCarthur Safety and Justice ChallengeMacArthur Foundation is the biggest financier of the project through its $3.5 million grant to Philadelphia, as part of its Safety and Justice Challenge. MacArthur Foundation aims to:

  • Cut the population of inmates in Philadelphia County’s jails
  • Reduce ethnic and racial disparities

The city intends to end cash bail because, it has been argued that cash bails punish and, incarcerates the poor disproportionately, for being poor.

Meanwhile, the exact timeline as to when the Philadelphia’s recidivism assessment tool will be completed and implemented in unknown.

Some advocates have argued that for the sake of ensuring that the tool is effective, the parties involved should not do everything on their own.

The state official should not just let policy-makers make both moral and political decisions alone. Rather they should include poor citizens in such conversations.

What do You Think about the Philadelphia Recidivism Tool? Weigh in Below!

Daniel Peterson is a young professional with diverse experience in content writing and content management. He has a strong blog writing background, and runs his own e-commerce partnership business. Daniel currently writes news articles for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network.

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