Beyond the Algorithm: Pretrial Reform, Risk Assessment, and Racial Fairness

Recorded On: 08/06/2019

Join our partners at the Center for Court Innovation as they talk about their new publication on thinking "beyond the algorithm." 

Risk assessments—automated formulas that measure the “risk” a defendant will be rearrested or fail to appear in court—are among the most controversial issues in criminal justice reform. To proponents, they offer a corrective to potentially biased decisions made by individual judges. To opponents, far from disrupting biases, risk assessments are unintentionally amplifying them, only this time under the guise of science.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen

Executive Partner, Pretrial Justice Institute

Cherise Fanno Burdeenhas spent more than 20 years working to improve public safety policies and practices across the country. After earning a bachelor’s in public administration from Miami University (Ohio) and a master’s in criminal justice from Indiana University, she began her career with the DOJ's National Institute of Justice. After fieldwork that included time with the Safer Foundation in Chicago and post-9/11 federal service with the Department of Homeland Security, Cherise joined PJI.

Since 2006, Cherise has developed innovative strategies to raise awareness of pretrial justice issues, amassed a broad constituency of criminal justice stakeholder groups, provided technical assistance and training on policy reforms, and engaged in communications and media efforts. She has extensive experience with strategic planning, initiative management, and change efforts across the criminal justice system. She serves as an issue expert for legal and correctional professionals, national and community advocates, the media, influencers, and artists.

Matthew Watkins

Senior Writer

Matt Watkins is the host and producer of our 'New Thinking' podcast about criminal justice reform (subscribe here) and the senior writer in the Communications department, creating and editing everything from full-length reports to tweets. Matt taught European history at New York University and Adelphi University and spent six years as a radio reporter, editor, and documentary producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Montreal, Toronto, and Iqaluit, Nunavut. Matt has a B.A. from McGill University in Philosophy and History and a Ph.D. in History from NYU. You can find him on Twitter @didacticmatt.

Raquel Delerme

Associate, Policy and Research

Julian Adler

Director, Policy and Research

Julian Adler is the director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation. He leads the Center's work on a range of national criminal justice reform initiatives, including the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, and he sits on the steering committee for Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research, a project of Arnold Ventures' National Partnership for Pretrial Justice. He oversees four teams across the organization:  Research, Research-Practice Strategies, Data Analytics and Applied Research, and Restorative Practices. Julian is the co-author of Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration (The New Press), as well as assorted book chapters, articles, and opinion pieces. A New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and attorney, he was previously the director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn, New York, the lead planner for Brooklyn Justice Initiatives, and part of a small planning team that launched Newark Community Solutions in New Jersey. He is currently leading a strategic planning process for clinicians across the organization and working on the development of integrative evidence-based and evidence-generating practices, including assessment instruments and intervention models.

Sarah Picard

Research Director

Sarah Picard is a Research Director with the Center for Court Innovation. Her recent work focuses on policy level reform in the adult criminal justice context and how research evidence can best be translated into practice. Dr. Picard has extensive experience studying the use of actuarial risk assessment tools in court settings, including leading a randomized controlled trial of their application to drug court case planning and collaborating on the development and validation of assessment tools for early decision-making in high-volume courts. She is currently finalizing a study that models the potential impact of risk assessment on racial disparities in pretrial outcomes. Dr. Picard also co-leads the Center’s research and technical assistance work to reduce the use of jail nationally. Her past research includes mixed-methods evaluations of problem-solving initiatives ranging from community-based gun violence prevention models to drug and domestic violence courts. She received her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.


Beyond the Algorithm: Pretrial Reform, Risk Assessment, and Racial Fairness
08/06/2019 at 12:00 PM (EDT)   |  60 minutes
08/06/2019 at 12:00 PM (EDT)   |  60 minutes