San Francisco Killing Raises Another Red Flag on Senate Bill 10
Arnold Foundation Pretrial Algorithm Raises Serious Questions
According to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Vivian Ho: “A computer program that assigns risk scores to San Francisco criminal defendants is itself under scrutiny after it helped free a 19-year-old man who, just days later, allegedly gunned down a 71-year-old stranger on Twin Peaks.”
Since 2016, the city of San Francisco “has been experimenting with the algorithm, which was designed by a foundation in Texas.” The Laura and John Arnold Foundation of Houston, Texas is the same organization whose pretrial release system is causing chaos in New Jersey, releasing hundreds of defendants in New Mexico, and it is the same algorithm that California State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) are allowing in Senate Bill 10, their legislation to end bail in California.
With this latest fiasco in California, our lawmakers don’t have to look to New Jersey, New Mexico, or Kentucky to find the failures of the Arnold Foundation’s pretrial release algorithm system, which under Senate Bill 10 is only allowable algorithm system.
“According to authorities, the new tool recommended that Lamonte Mims, a 19-year-old former resident of Patterson in Stanislaus County, be released through a special pretrial diversion program when he appeared in court July 11 to face charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.”
“Mims was already on probation in two counties for car burglary and allegedly violated the terms of probation at least twice. But the algorithm determined he was a medium public safety and flight risk, officials said, and recommended he be released on condition that he check in routinely with the pretrial diversion unit.”
“Five days later, French was fatally shot. Investigators said they connected Mims and a co-defendant, 20-year-old Fantasy Decuir of San Francisco, to French’s killing after the two were arrested for robbing a man and woman at gunpoint near St. Mary’s Cathedral on Gough Street.”
“Some in the city’s criminal justice system were shocked to see a defendant in Mims’ predicament released, whether or not he received a favorable computer score.”
“‘This guy had been given one chance and put on probation, and then another chance and put on probation, and now he’s caught in possession of a firearm?’ said Bill Fazio, a former city prosecutor and candidate for district attorney. ‘Why would he even be considered for release?’”
“San Francisco criminal justice officials could not provide statistics documenting how the algorithm has been used and whether it has been successful.”
“Critics of the program — among them prosecutors in Gascón’s office — point to deaths like French’s as proof of the tool’s flaws. Last month, a mother in New Jersey filed a federal lawsuit against the Arnold Foundation after her son was fatally shot, allegedly by a man who had just been released from custody.”
“The defendant in the New Jersey case had a lengthy criminal record, and like Mims, his latest charge was being a felon in possession of a weapon. According to the lawsuit, New Jersey law enforcement officers had expressed concern that the algorithm undervalued the danger of cases involving guns.”
“‘This has been used and implemented in New Mexico, New Jersey and San Francisco, and it sounds like in all of these jurisdictions, there are failures,’ said Eric Siddall, vice president of the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys.”
“Attorneys with the public defender’s office have expressed skepticism of the algorithm ever since it was introduced. Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is representing Mims’ co-defendant in the Twin Peaks killing, said the concern is that clients be treated as individuals, not as pieces of a formula. …”
Read San Francisco Chronicle Story Here: