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When the Dollars Don’t Add Up to Sense

This policy brief discusses how and why North Carolina must rethink its approach to criminal fines and fees. By Lindsay Bass-Patel and Angie Weis Gammell.

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

November 9, 2023

Interpretable Algorithmic Forensics

Center Faculty Director Brandon Garrett along with Duke Computer Science Professor Cynthia Rudin wrote about the growing use of “black box” artificial intelligence (AI) in the criminal legal system, which lacks transparency in how the technology works. Garrett and Rudin describe how “glass box” AI—designed to be interpretable—can be more accurate than black box alternatives. In fact, black box AI performs worse in settings like the criminal system. Given that, they argue for judicial rulings and legislation to safeguard a right to interpretable forensic AI.

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases

October 13, 2023

Finding Home: Removing Barriers to Housing for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

The rate of homelessness among formerly incarcerated individuals is ten times higher than that of the general population. Thus, addressing the housing needs of this population is crucial for improving housing access and stability overall. This policy brief outlines the relationship between housing and the criminal legal system and sets forth recommendations to improve housing access for people impacted by the criminal legal system. By: Megan Moore and Angie Weis Gammell.

Behavioral Health Needs, Equity in Criminal Outcomes

September 11, 2023

Reliance on Community Emergency Departments by People Ever Detained in Jail: Retrospective Cross-Sectional Study

This study investigated Emergency Department (ED) use by people incarcerated in jails. The authors found that frequent ED use was associated with more frequent jail bookings and with co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorder. By: Michele M Easter, Nicole L Schramm-Sapyta, Maria A Tackett, Isabella G Larsen, Becky Tang, Matthew A Ralph, Luong N Huynh — Journal of Correctional Health Care (2023)

Behavioral Health Needs

August 21, 2023

Open Prosecution

This article opens the “black box” of prosecutorial discretion by tasking prosecutors with documenting detailed case-level information concerning plea bargaining. The article describes how the data-collection methodology was designed, piloted, and implemented, as well as the insights that have been generated and the wider implications for the judicial process across the country. By: Brandon L. Garrett, William E. Crozier, Kevin Dahaghi, Elizabeth J. Gifford, Catherine Grodensky, Adele Quigley-McBride, and Jennifer Teitcher — Stanford Law Review (2023)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

Sensitizing Jurors to Eyewitness Confidence Using “Reason-Based” Judicial Instructions

This study examines a new paradigm for jury instructions regarding eyewitness testimony, in which the judge provides concise reasons why jurors should discount an eyewitness’s courtroom confidence and instead focus on the eyewitness’s confidence at the time of a police lineup. By: Brandon L. Garrett, William E. Crozier, Karima Modjadidi, Alice J. Liu, Karen Kafadar, Joanne Yaffe, and Chad S. Dodson — Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2023)

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases

The Laws that Regulate Police: The Wilson Center’s Policing Legislation Database

To better understand lawmaking in response to calls for reform, the Wilson Center for Science and Justice began tracking the introduction of policing-related legislation. This report covers our database tracking policing legislation and our initial findings. (2023)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

Debt Sentence: How Fines and Fees Hurt Working Families

Across the United States, courts impose fines as a punishment for minor traffic infractions, municipal code violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. State and local governments then tax people with fees, surcharges, and other costs used to fund the justice system and other government services. This study by the Wilson Center and the Fines and Fees Justice Center is the first to present a comprehensive, national overview of how court-imposed fines and fees are affecting people across the country. (2023)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

May 15, 2023

Error Aversions and Due Process

This study examines national surveys sampling more than 12,000 people, finding that a majority of Americans consider false acquittals and false convictions to be errors of equal magnitude. Most people are unwilling to err on the side of letting the guilty go free to avoid convicting the innocent. Indeed, a sizeable minority view false acquittals as worse than false convictions. By: Brandon L. Garrett and Gregory Mitchell — Michigan Law Review (2023)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

April 21, 2023