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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses contemporary debates regarding the use of artificial intelligence as a vehicle for criminal justice reform. It closely examines two general approaches to what has been widely branded as “algorithmic fairness” in criminal law: the development of formal fairness criteria and accuracy measures that illustrate the trade-offs of different algorithmic interventions; and the development of “best practices” and managerialist standards for maintaining a baseline of accuracy, transparency, and validity in these systems. Attempts to render AI-branded tools more accurate by addressing narrow notions of bias miss the deeper methodological and epistemological issues regarding the fairness of these tools. The key question is whether predictive tools reflect and reinforce punitive practices that drive disparate outcomes, and how data regimes interact with the penal ideology to naturalize these practices. The chapter then calls for a radically different understanding of the role and function of the carceral state, as a starting place for re-imagining the role of “AI” as a transformative force in the criminal legal system.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, criminal justice reform, algorithmic fairness, criminal law, AI-branded tools, bias, predictive tools, data regimes, carceral state, algorithmic interventions

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