In the U.S., judges set bail – an amount of money defendants must deposit with the court -- to make sure people appear in court. Defendants must pay the bail amount to get released to wait for trial. Those with enough money to get out before trial, but those without cash stay in jail – regardless of the risk they pose. Could a data-based system do a better job of assessing these risks, and keep the poor out of jail before trial?
Matt Alsdorf is founder and president of Pretrial Advisors, and former Vice President for Criminal Justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Matt headed up the foundation’s effort to apply a data-based solution to the problem of pretrial incarceration – the Public Safety Assessment tool.