Fewer men and women are in jail awaiting trial in New Jersey and crime is down in the state for the first half of the year. Advocates for criminal justice reform say this proves reform of the bail system, that went into effect in January, is working. But the reformed system is already the subject of lawsuits.
Central to the reform is a Public Safety Assessment devised by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. An algorithm of nine factors — including age, the nature of the charge, convictions, and incarceration — aims to predict whether someone charged with a crime will show up for court or commit a crime if released before trial. The algorithm was not designed to take away judges’ discretion. “They can take into account any factors that they’re aware of outside of the risk assessment,” Matt Alsdorf of the foundation said, noting that “there is no way to create a perfect system.”
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