Over the last three years, a team of volunteers, fellows and staff at Media Mobilizing Project have investigated how pretrial risk assessments tools (RATs) affect high-stakes pretrial incarceration, supervision, and release decisions. On February 6th, we hosted a webinar to share the data we’ve collected and to discuss how we can use our findings to further the fight to end pretrial incarceration. Watch the webinar here!
Hundreds of thousands of our community members are held in cages before their trials – innocent until proven guilty. The majority of them are Black and brown, poor, and impacted by the brutal history of racial, gender and economic oppression in the United States. Many jurisdictions are working to reduce pretrial jail populations by using RATs, which are algorithmic decision-making tools that try to predict who will come back to court and who will get arrested again, if released.
However, studies show that there are major racial biases embedded in these tools, and that courts and decision-makers don’t reliably use them to reduce pretrial incarceration or supervision in many communities nationwide. To support the growing nationwide demand to abolish pretrial detention, we know it will be imperative to understand how (or whether) pretrial RATs intersect with pretrial decision-making, and create barriers to our vision of decarceration.
This is why we researched and built Mapping Pretrial Injustice, community-driven database analyzing the use of RATs across the nation. Within it we breakdown how risk assessment tools are used, where they’re used and how they impact our communities. Click here to watch our webinar with MediaJustice. Click here to explore our database.