Idaho transparency bill would increase public access to pretrial risk tools

Idaho transparency bill would increase public access to pretrial risk tools

(excerpt from Mudrock - March 5 2019)

Idaho is one step closer to becoming the first state to make pretrial risk assessment algorithms more transparent and open to public scrutiny, addressing long festering concerns about the risk to civil rights of automated pretrial tools in criminal justice.

House Bill No. 118, approved by the Idaho House on March 4th, requires that “all pretrial risk assessment tools shall be transparent” and all records of their use be “open to public inspection, auditing, and testing.”

It also invalidates the frequently used “trade secret” exemption that has made it more difficult for anyone challenging the algorithms to get details of how they work. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

“[T]he bill … really focuses on the transparency piece,” Representative Greg Chaney (R-10), the bill’s chief sponsor, told MuckRock. Chaney said he was “shocked and appalled” by risk assessments, similar to the 2002 film “Minority Report,” based on a Philip K. Dick story, in which police use technology to predict future crimes. “If there is something in there that either explicitly or implicitly brings in a bias, at the very minimum, we need to make sure that that’s always open to scrutiny, to litigation, to let the statisticians look and identify problems and let the public know what’s going on and to allow the process to work that way.”

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