Pretrial Justice Institute releases a report detailing arguments against the use of risk assessments.

“In 2020, after an extensive period of reflection, the Pretrial Justice Institute released a statement opposing RAIs. First and foremost, that position was driven by a strengthening commitment to racial equity and a conviction that the tools do not adequately address the biases inherent in the system. Underscoring this new position, though, was the understanding, based on research, that these tools are not able to do what they claim to do—accurately predict the behavior of people released pretrial and guide the setting of conditions to mitigate certain behaviors.

RAIs simply add a veneer of scientific objectivity and mathematical precision to what are really very weak guesses about the future, based on information gathered from within a structurally racist and unequal system of law, policy and practice. This paper interrogates the role that RAIs are supposed to play in advancing pretrial justice, and how they fall short.”

Key Takeaways

  • Pretrial risk assessment instruments (RAIs) are constructed from biased data, so the RAIs perpetuate racism.
  • RAIs are not able to accurately predict whether someone will flee prosecution or commit a violent crime.
  • RAIs label people as “risky” even when their odds of success are high.
  • RAI scores inform conditions of release, but there is no proven connection between RAI scores, specific conditions, and pretrial success.