An Algorithm to Take the Guesswork Out of Criminal Sentencing

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Every day judges are faced with a difficult dilemma: whether or not to let someone who’s just been arraigned out on bail. If they’re released, they could commit more crimes—potentially violent ones. But if you deny bail, people who aren’t safety or flight risks crowd into over-burdened prisons. Now, jurisdictions around the country have an option that claims to take the subjectivity out of the decision. It’s called the Public Safety Assessment, or PSA, and it was created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.