Aggressively Defending My Clients Since 1990

Criminal sentencing should not be racist

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2021 | Firm News

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is part of a phrase attributed to the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, among others, and later popularized in the United States by, among others, Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The statement refers to the persuasive power of numbers, the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions.

Unfortunately, all too often courts rely on racist statistics in pronouncing sentence.  Courts use computer generated risk assessments in sentencing defendants.  As has been pointed out, the term “risk” is a proxy for Race.  Bernard E. Harcourt, Risk As a Proxy for Race (2010),  See also, Algorithmic Injustice: How the Wisconsin Supreme Court Failed to Protect Due Process Rights in State v. Loomis (2016), and  Racist Algorithms: How Code Is Written Can Reinforce Systemic Racism (2020),