EPIC Calls on the National Institute of Justice to Center Harm Prevention and Agency Oversight in Forthcoming Criminal Justice AI Report

May 28, 2024

Today, EPIC submitted comments to the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ), urging the agency to rein in the harmful biases, inaccuracies, and abuses at the core of criminal justice AI systems. The comment comes in response to Section 7.1(b) of Executive Order 14110, which requires the Attorney General to submit a report that broadly addresses AI use in the criminal justice system—everything from sentencing and parole to police surveillance, predictive policing, and prison-management systems.

EPIC highlighted three main points that serve as the foundation for any responsible approach to criminal justice AI and automated decision-making. First, industry claims around AI innovation frequently serve as a smokescreen for negligent AI development and deployment. Second, criminal justice AI use contexts require tailored oversight and accountability mechanisms to minimize the heightened risks of bias, errors, law enforcement abuses, and other harms. And third, certain AI technologies like emotion recognition and one-to-many facial recognition, which showcase excessive racial bias, errors, and other risks across all use contexts, should be prohibited.

To further emphasize the racial disparities central to many criminal justice AI use contexts, EPIC has also signed on to a broad coalition comment led by the Center for American Progress and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. As the comment highlights, “Black people and other people of color face significant civil rights harms resulting from law enforcement’s use of AI. The best practices identified in the forthcoming [NIJ] report are crucial for addressing these harms and ensuring that any AI technologies developed, procured, used, or funded by law enforcement agencies do not cause or contribute to discrimination.”

These comments are the latest examples of EPIC’s longstanding advocacy for stronger oversight and regulation of AI systems, including extensive research on government AI systems, AI procurement, and generative AI technologies. EPIC will continue to advocate on behalf of consumers and marginalized populations as agencies develop their AI expertise pursuant to Executive Order 14110.

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