2 years ago
drwhat
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PA to Use Risk Assessment Tools to Decide Sentences
Not sure what I think of this "reform," but it's definitely interesting enough to share.
Politicians and officials in Pennsylvania want to implement some changes to the judicial system unlike ones I've seen in a very, very long time.
Here's the basic idea:
"Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign."
This means that risk assessment tools (which are already used in various ways throughout the whole judicial system, but usually more in line with setting bail and deciding parole than anything else, would be used in the sentencing of people.

I cannot explain the complexity of this proposal in full

This article does a great job, though and has great interactive graphs to check out!!
I've seen a lot of differing opinions on this one already, for instance, someone said this: "I see here that this is your first offense. Since it's a non violent crime with no victim and based on the fact we're going to destroy your life and make sure you can only get a minimum wage job from now on if you're lucky to pay these massive fines we're going to go easy on you and only give you 50 years".
Others disagree, and say this system promotes the opposite: "This algorithm will actually do the opposite of that. It will use advanced metrics to determine how likely you are to commit another crime. As a non violent offender of a crime that had no victim you should be less likely to commit another crime. If the data shows this then you will receive a lesser sentence. This is a good step forward from the overly harsh minimums we see now."
Some say that this will do nothing helpful and only cause harm: "You're still punishing people for something they have yet to do. Thought crime. Additionally all this really shows is that prison isn't working as a deterrent to crime and most likely our current system breeds more crime then it prevents."
Here's my thought: I believe that this system is being made with good intentions. The idea is that it's not about lengthening sentences for people more likely to reoffend, it's about giving an option to judges to shorten them for people very likely to never reoffend based on hard statistical data. And that, to me, is great.
However, we all know that a system like this will be used to the opposite. We already do base parole and sentencing on the likelihood a person will commit another crime.
Still, this could be a move in the right direction--I guess we have to test it and see. The chances of a radical change to the prison system are slim, so changes like this will at least help move the system in the correct direction.
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This is awful, stupid, undermines the whole concept of justice and one day, after it will increase crime rate and destroy thousands of lives, they are going to say that they are sorry that they adopted this system, just as Bill Clinton now says about the 3 hits punishment.
@orenshani7 I completely agree that risk assessment tools, while usually well intended, just do not really carry out justice as they base each sentencing off statistics not on the individual case. Thankfully, it has not been fullyimplemented yet. We will see.