EPIC Obtains Documents about Nebraska’s Flawed Risk Assessment Software
November 21, 2019
In response to EPIC's Freedom of Information Act request, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has provided to EPIC several documents about Nebraska's use of pre-trial risk assessments. Emails among state officials reveal concerns about the accuracy of the Vant4ge algorithm used for risk assessment. The head of the state agency wrote, "there has not been consistency in how the STRONG-R training is delivered" and "there are errors in how the 'severity index' of specific crimes is coded in the Vant4ge software" which "affect the final risk and needs score calculations produced by the assessment." According to the contract obtained by EPIC, Nebraska committed to continue with Vant4ge until 2022. EPIC previously pursued several lawsuits to obtain information about "predictive policing" and "future crime prediction" algorithms. EPIC obtained documents about pre-trial risk assessments as well as a scoring system developed by the DHS to assign risk assessments to travelers, including US citizens. EPIC has urged government agencies to make transparent algorithmic-based decision making.