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Applying Scientific Method to Bail Reform

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Stock photo of a prison.

“We're going to hopefully ensure that people who cannot afford a bond are not going to be held just because they can't afford it,” said Nushin Sayfie, chief judge of Miami-Dade County in Florida.

Credit: Getty Images

More than 50 state, city, and county jurisdictions in the U.S. have implemented the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool to shift from cash-based bail systems to fairer judicial procedures.

The algorithm, developed by the philanthropy Arnold Ventures and trained on 750,000 historical criminal cases, scores detainees on a scale of 1-6 based on a release conditions matrix that considers how likely they would be to appear in court for their trial, commit a new crime, or perpetrate a violent criminal act. The jurisdiction then uses that score to determine how it handles the detainee.

There are concerns the PSA's use of criminal history data could prejudice the tool against people of color, as well as worries that such cashless bail policies will make communities inherently more dangerous.

From ABC News
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