Algorithmic Injustice: How the Wisconsin Supreme Court Failed to Protect Due Process Rights in State v. Loomis

December 23, 2016

Risk assessment algorithms are equations designed to take large amounts of information about an offender’s past criminal experience, as well as other biographical and psychological information, and use it to compute a score that ranks an offender at various risk levels. Depending on which body within the system is utilizing it, the score is then used to make parole decisions, rehabilitation program placements, and, problematically, sentencing decisions. In State v. Loomis, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the risk assessment algorithm, entitled Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (“COMPAS”), could be used during sentencing, offering only a series of warning labels intended to prevent judges from relying too heavily on COMPAS results during sentencing. This Recent Development argues that the court misapplied the precedent and offered no actual protections of the due process clause and proposes more effective solutions to address the issues of COMPAS in the sentencing process.