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Just Algorithms


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Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Rationale: what risk algorithms can do for the criminal justice system; 2. Fit: why and when data about groups are relevant to individuals; 3. Validity: figuring out when risk algorithms are sufficiently accurate; 4. Fairness: avoiding unjust algorithms egalitarian injustice; 5. Structure: limiting retributivism and individual prevention; 6. Moving forward: the need for experimentation.

Promotional Information

Properly developed algorithms can reduce incarceration and help policymakers adopt more legally sophisticated bail and sentencing practices.

About the Author

Christopher Slobogin holds the Milton Underwood Chair at Vanderbilt University Law School. He has authored or co-authored eight books and over 150 articles on criminal justice issues. He is one of the most heavily cited law professors in the criminal justice field and is the only law professor to have received Distinguished Scholar awards from both the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Board of Forensic Psychology.


'In Just Algorithms, Christopher Slobogin - one of the most incisive criminal law scholars of his generation-makes plain how scientifically-valid risk assessment could transform the criminal justice system, from the pretrial detention of suspected offenders through the sentencing of convicted offenders. The transparent 'jurisprudence of risk' articulated here is a blueprint for thorough systemic reform.' John Monahan, PhD, Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law and Psychology, University of Virginia
'At a time of hot debate about the dangers of big data and machine learning, Just Algorithms is a welcome addition to the literature. Slobogin's basic premise is that, if applied judiciously, risk assessment instruments could help achieve meaningful reform in the criminal justice system. Slobogin unpacks and addresses important critiques of risk assessment-including concerns about racial bias-in the comparative context of maintaining the status quo. He also argues for revolutionary changes to the current sentencing regime. The book is beautifully grounded in law and research - but innovative, concise, and refreshingly clear. A must read for anyone with an interest in criminal justice.' Jennifer Skeem, Florence Krenz Mack Professor of Social Welfare and Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
'In Just Algorithms, Slobogin offers a thoughtful and much-needed discussion of the promise and perils of predictive algorithms in the criminal justice system. The book is a must-read for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers grappling with challenging questions on the role of algorithms in driving lasting reform.' Sharad Goel, Assistant Professor of Management Science and Engineering and, by Courtesy, of Computer Science, of Sociology and of Law, Stanford University
'Just Algorithms puts risk assessment instruments at the center of American decarceration policy, arguing that they should be the main guideposts for parole-release decisions to shorten the nation's overlong prison terms. At the same time, Professor Slobogin advocates Olympian legal protections to guard against inaccuracy, unfairness, and racial bias in risk-influenced decisions. His vision would give unprecedented new rights to incarcerated persons - reaching toward a much-needed Due Process revolution in US prison policy.' Kevin R. Reitz, James Annenberg La Vea Professor of Law, University of Minnesota
'... one of the first in-depth, systematic legal arguments in favor of automating justice that considers legal and scientific aspects of criminal punishment via the simulation of recidivism. As such, the book is necessary reading for anyone seriously interested in criminal justice reform and the ethical, legal, and social implications of applying data science technologies in judicial contexts.' Michael Spezio, Science
'... Just Algorithm[s] ... [is] a valuable contribution to the scholarly literature.' Aziz Z. Huq, Rutgers

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