Volume 12
Issue 2
Fall '20

Risk Assessment Instruments are Inappropriate for Sentence Reform: Real Solutions for Reform Address Racial Stratification

Written By: Cindy Anderson

Abstract

Some prison reformers have championed risk assessment instruments (“RAIs”) as a reliable tool in decarcerating prisons of low-risk prisoners. RAIs are purported to contribute to a more just and fair system by replacing the subjective bias of human decision making with objective mathematical algorithms. However, scholars have expressed concerns that these instruments are problematic because the lack of transparency and the existing racial stratification will only perpetuate racial bias. As academics continue to debate RAIs’ potential harm, at least twenty states are allowing RAIs to be used at sentencing.

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