Sen. John Kennedy: Bail, bond decisions are being made today with algorithms – That puts your safety at risk
(excerpt from Fox News Aug 5 2019)
Even if you’ve never heard of Edward French, his death should terrify you.
Two years ago, the 71-year-old photographer was greeting the sunrise with his camera at a popular San Francisco scenic spot when a pair of robbers shot and killed him. One of those robbers, Lamonte Mims, was in jail just days before the murder. He was released – free to help kill French – because a computer algorithm determined he didn’t pose a grave risk to public safety.
Algorithms diminish public safety in this country. They ask us to pretend that lengthy arrest records and violent crimes don’t matter. They ask police to scoop up the bad guys only for the courts to immediately release them. They turn us into a bad joke. This is utter insanity, and it’s taking the lives of innocent people like Edward French.
Jurisdictions across the U.S. are snapping up algorithms as tools to help judges make bail and bond decisions. They’re being sold as race- and gender-neutral assessments that allow judges to use science in determining whether someone will behave if released from jail pending trial.
Really, they’re a dangerous collision of the poorly vetted cost cuts and socialist agendas that are sweeping this country.
The algorithms scare me because they’re being implemented for the same reason as the early release programs that are getting people killed. The goal isn’t to protect public safety. It’s to empty jail cells and release dangerous criminals on their own recognizance.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’m concerned about the recklessness of public policy that endangers people’s lives, especially in minority communities, where crime often is such a scourge. These algorithms – called pretrial assessment release tools – are the equivalent of using a Magic 8 ball in courtrooms. The results are disastrous to communities and great for criminals.