EPIC FOIA: Justice Department Admits Algorithmic Sentencing Report Doesn't Exist

The Justice Department, in response to an EPIC FOIA lawsuit, has admitted that the United States Sentencing Commission never produced an evaluation of "risk assessment" tools in criminal sentencing. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed concern about bias in criminal sentencing "risk assessments" and called on the Sentencing Commission to study the problem and produce a report. But after EPIC requested that study and sued the DOJ to obtain it, the DOJ conceded that the report was never produced. EPIC did obtain emails confirming the existence of a 2014 DOJ report about "predictive policing" algorithms, but the agency also withheld that report. "Risk assessments" are secret techniques used to set bail, to determine criminal sentences, and even make decisions about guilt or innocence. EPIC has pursued several FOIA cases to promote "algorithmic transparency", including cases on passenger risk assessment, "future crime" prediction, and proprietary forensic analysis.

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