Amy Cyphert on Predicting Recidivism
In this episode, Amy Cyphert, Lecturer in Law and Director of the ASPIRE Office at the West Virginia University College of Law, discusses her article "Reprogramming Recidivism: The First Step Act and Algorithmic Prediction of Risk," which is published in the Seton Hall Law Review. Cyphert begins by explaining how the First Step Act changed the way the Department of Justice makes decisions about when to release particular people from federal prison, including in response to the COVID pandemic. Specifically, she discusses the new PATTERN system, which provides a framework for placing people in different risk categories, based on both static and dynamic features. She observes that it may be an improvement on previous, more subjective methods, but still lacks the transparency necessary to evaluate it for accuracy and bias. She argues that it is a good first step, but more steps are needed. Cyphert is on Twitter at @CyphertAmy.