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Criminal Courts

New technologies should not expand the reach of the criminal legal system.

From pretrial to parole, we seek to limit the role of technologies that can expand the reach and impact of the criminal legal system. We advocate against legal rules that insulate technologies from scrutiny at the cost of constitutionally protected rights. From pretrial risk assessment instruments to probabilistic genotyping systems, we oppose the use of technologies in criminal courts that jeopardize people’s freedom and widen the criminal legal system. In the past, we have worked extensively across the nation to advocate against the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments. We’ve also worked to ensure that secretive new technologies, like probabilistic genotyping systems, do not garner more legal protections than the accused.

Latest work in this issue area

All work in this issue area
Amicus Brief on Probabilistic DNA Analysis

Working with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, we filed a brief in New Jersey v. Pickett supporting the defense’s request to fully examine TrueAllele, the probabilistic DNA analysis software used in the case, in order to assess its reliability.

Emily Paul, Logan Koepke, Urmila Janardan, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte

Why PATTERN shouldn't determine "priority release" during COVID

We called on the Attorney General to rescind guidance which said that only individuals assessed as minimum risk by PATTERN should receive “priority treatment” for release during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Logan Koepke

Amicus brief on risk assessment instruments in Pennsylvania

We filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, arguing that the Court should not order the implementation of a pretrial risk assessment instrument as a bail reform measure in Philadelphia.

Logan Koepke

Civil Rights and Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments

We co-led the Pretrial Risk Management Project of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; as part of this project, we published a critical issue brief on pretrial risk assessment instruments and civil rights concerns.

Logan Koepke and David Robinson

Selected press and events

The Crime Report Is Ending Pretrial Detention a Better Alternative to Bail Than Risk Assessment?

Our paper “offers a powerful defense of the civil rights critique, mustering arguments that suggest even the most carefully calibrated algorithms ultimately are weakened by the structural inequalities that have long beset the U.S. criminal justice system.”

New York Times Your DNA Profile is Private? A Florida Judge Just Said Otherwise

Logan Koepke is quoted on police genetic profiling via consumer DNA services.

The Appeal How a Tool to Help Judges May be Leading Them Astray

In Cook County, Illinois, 99 percent of defendants deemed ‘high risk’ for pretrial violence don’t reoffend.

The Atlantic The Bail-Reform Tool That Activists Want Abolished

The Atlantic explains pretrial algorithms, with input from Logan Koepke, Senior Policy Analyst.