Latest in Culture

Image credit:

Wisconsin court deems sentencing algorithm constitutional

The secret code doesn't violate your right to due process, according to the ruling.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 2, 2016
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Fdastudillo via Getty Images

If you were hoping that Wisconsin would open up the sentencing algorithm it uses to help determine prison time, you're about to be disappointed. The state's Supreme Court has ruled that the use of the the COMPAS algorithm doesn't violate your constitutional right to due process. The decision rejected plaintiff Eric Loomis' complaints that the code is both proprietary (thus preventing him from challenging its accuracy) and was too central to his 6-year prison term. There were "other independent factors" leading to the sentence, the Supreme Court says, and you don't need to reveal the algorithm's source code when it's only one consideration among many.

The ruling also notes that the criteria were based on Loomis' publicly available criminal history, and that he could have double-checked that the questions and answers on the report were accurate.

Needless to say, this decision won't make Loomis or other supporters happy. How do you tell when a judge is merely considering the algorithm's output versus relying on it, for instance? And how do you reconcile this decision with those from other courts, such as when a Minnesota court ordered the release of breathalyzer source code? As TechDirt says, there's a worry that only extreme recommendations will trigger concerns about dependence on the algorithm. You might not spot biases like racism or sexism simply because the data seems reasonable on the surface.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

NVIDIA apologizes for RTX 3080 order chaos

NVIDIA apologizes for RTX 3080 order chaos

View
You’ll need more than $299 to truly enjoy next-gen gaming

You’ll need more than $299 to truly enjoy next-gen gaming

View
Apple iPad (2020) hands-on: A better kind of basic

Apple iPad (2020) hands-on: A better kind of basic

View
Facebook's Infinite Office is a virtual office space for the WFH crowd

Facebook's Infinite Office is a virtual office space for the WFH crowd

View
Confused about which console to buy? Just wait.

Confused about which console to buy? Just wait.

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr