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Risk, Race, and Recidivism: Predictive Bias and Disparate Impact

Risk assessment instruments figure prominently in current criminal justice reforms, but their use is controversial. The principal concern is that benefits in crime control will be offset by costs in social justice—a disparate and adverse effect on racial minorities and the poor. Based on a sample of 34,794 people convicted of federal offenses, this publication—by Jennifer Skeem of the University of California, Berkley, and Christopher T. Lowenkamp of the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts—examines the relationships among race, actuarial risk assessment, and future arrest.