Incident 154: Justice Department’s Recidivism Risk Algorithm PATTERN Allegedly Caused Persistent Disparities Along Racial Lines

Description: Department of Justice’s inmate-recidivism risk assessment tool was reported to have produced racially uneven results, misclassifying risk levels for inmates of color.


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Alleged: US Department of Justice developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed inmates of color.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor, Khoa Lam

GMF Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Known AI Goal

Recidivism Prediction

Potential AI Technology

Diverse Data, Distributional Learning

Known AI Technical Failure

Lack of Transparency, Misconfigured Threshold

Potential AI Technical Failure

Incomplete Data Attribute Capture, Distributional Bias

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A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.