Opening the lid on criminal sentencing software

Robin A. Smith

In 2013, a Wisconsin man named Eric Loomis was convicted of fleeing an officer and driving a car without the owner's consent. He was denied probation and sentenced to six years in prison based, in part, on a prediction made by a secret computer algorithm. The algorithm, developed by a private company called Northpointe, had determined Loomis was at "high risk" of running afoul of the law again. Car insurers base their premiums on the same sorts of models, using a person's driving record, gender, age and other factors to calculate their risk of having an accident in the future.


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