We seek to apply data science to the field of criminal justice, working with jurisdictions to improve their use of risk assessments, while promoting the ideals of transparency and fairness.
The Center for Court Innovation is committed to improving decision-making in the criminal justice process. When used carefully and ethically, risk assessments can facilitate more informed decisions on bail and pretrial detention. At a time when pretrial detention has been identified as a primary driver of jail populations, risk assessments have contributed to important reforms, promoting the diversion of defendants from jail.
At the Center, we have developed risk assessments for use with specific defendant populations (such as the Criminal Court Assessment Tool), and offer expert assistance for criminal justice practitioners working to implement their own instruments. We are also committed to advancing an informed public conversation about both the potential and the challenges of risk assessment. To this end, we have hosted dialogues bringing together policy-makers with data scientists and ethicists and examined the issue of how risk assessment impacts racial disparities.
MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge
The MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Rethinking Rikers Island
By providing support to the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, we're aiding in the effort to reduce New York City’s jail population and close Rikers Island.
Written by Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation, and Julian Adler, director of policy and research, Start Here from the New Press offers a road map of concrete actions to reduce the number of people sent to jail and prison, highlighting key lessons from successful programs across the country.
This paper explains the science underlying risk-based decision-making and explores both the promise and controversies associated with the increasing application of “big data” to the field of criminal justice.
About two out of three people in local jails are being held awaiting trial, often because they can't afford bail. What if a mathematical formula could do a more objective job of identifying who could be safely released? That's the promise of risk assessments. But critics call them "justice by algorithm," and contend they're reproducing the bias inherent to the justice system, only this time under the guise of science.
A check-in on supervised release—an important, and expanding, alternative to bail and pretrial detention in New York City—as the program reaches 10,000 participants. We operate the program in three of the city's five boroughs.
Citing our research, former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman makes a case for the increased use of pretrial risk assessments while also emphasizing the importance of transparency and responding to criticisms of the tools.