Predictive algorithms decide critical law enforcement

An article from the New York Times sheds light on the practice of using algorithms in critical decision-making processes of law enforcement both in the US and Europe.

In the US, local authorities increasingly use predictive algorithms to set probation rules as well as police patrols and prison sentences. In 2018, an algorithm deemed a former prison inmate Darnell Gates a “high risk” following his probation hearing in Philadelphia. This meant that he was required to visit a probation office every week, while being unaware that software had made that decision for authorities. Echoing the opinion of several legal advisors and public investigators, Gates said that he does not believe that a computer can fully understand his situation and expressed concern that the automated method was used without his knowledge. Dr. Richard Berk, the professor who designed the algorithm used by the Philadelphia probation department, says its controversy will fade as algorithms become more widely used.

Similar examples from Europe include predictive algorithms used to flag welfare fraud risks in the Netherlands and for rating teenagers in a British city (Bristol) who are most likely to become criminals.

Read the full story on the New York Times website.