Pennsylvania Wants To Use Science In Criminal Sentencing

A FiveThirtyEight reporter tells HuffPost Live about the way "risk assessments" could change criminal justice.

It's not quite "Minority Report," but Pennsylvania is looking to the future in its criminal sentencing policy. As early as next year, Pennsylvania judges could receive risk assessments -- statistically derived tools based on age, sex and prior arrests -- to help them decide how likely a criminal is to commit more crimes and sentence that person accordingly. Anna Maria Barry-Jester, a public health reporter for FiveThirtyEight, talked with HuffPost Live on Monday about how this form of sentencing would work for the state.

"They take a lot of information about people who commit crimes and see what characteristics are most associated with reoffending," Barry-Jester told host Alyona Minkovski. "So then they come up with something that's sort of like a questionnaire, and try to determine the risk of a person who's like that person in terms of if they will reoffend."

Watch Barry-Jester describe risk assessments for prisoners and the danger of unfair biases against certain groups in the video above.

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