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  • 08.02.16

San Francisco is testing a bail system powered by an algorithm

The city is testing the computer algorithms after a lawsuit filed by a civil rights group said its human-decided bail system favors the rich and penalizes people of color and low economic means, reports the San Francisco Chronicle:

The tool that San Francisco has been experimenting with since May doesn’t set a bail amount for an alleged crime. Instead, it weighs a number of factors including the pending charges, the person’s age and rap sheet, and their record of faithfully showing up to court. The tool then makes a recommendation for or against release, which is then sent to a judge who can follow or ignore the advice. The algorithm, offered to the city at no cost, was developed by the Texas-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which used data from the case histories of more than 1.5 million people—in other words, how they performed when released.  

MG