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Showing posts from August, 2019

Algorithmic Equity: A Framework for Social Applications

"Social institutions — such as markets, social media platforms, criminal justice systems, and employment processes — increasingly leverage algorithms for decisionmaking purposes. This report examines potential pathologies in institutional use of algorithmic decisionmaking tools. The primary focus of this report is to understand how to evaluate the equitable use of algorithms across a range of specific applications. The report outlines concepts of equity from philosophical, legal, and technical traditions to draw insights that apply across algorithmic decisionmaking contexts. The researchers develop a framework for examining algorithmic decisionmaking and work through three domain explorations (auto insurance, job recruitment, and criminal justice). In addition, the work contains a deep dive into an algorithm audit of a part of the North Carolina criminal justice system. The work ends with overall insights and recommendations of practical mechanisms for algorithmic go…

Metro Vancouver's Top Doctor Calls for Safe Drug Supply as Fentanyl Overdoses Rise

"Vancouver Coastal Health’s top doctor is joining the calls for a safe and regulated drug supply in the region to help combat the overdose crisis.

In a report released Friday, chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly says the safe supply would help fill the gap left by people who haven’t connected with the health care system, arguing expanding treatment for people battling addiction isn’t enough to eliminate further deaths.

'Replacing the unregulated, illegal supply of opioids with legal alternatives must rise to the top of our priority list, and requires our urgent attention,' Daly writes at the top of the report.


The report found fentanyl was detected in 87 per cent of overdose deaths across the Vancouver Coastal Health area in 2018 — a six per cent rise from the previous year.

In 2015, only 25 per cent of fatal overdoses involved fentanyl, an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin.

Daly makes 21 recommendations to improve services throughout the Vanco…

Gatekeepers: The Role of Police in Ending Mass Incarceration

"Police in America arrest millions of people each year, and the likelihood that arrest will lead to jail incarceration has increased steadily: for every 100 arrests police officers made in 2016, there were 99 jail admissions, up from 70 jail admissions for every 100 arrests in 1994. Ending mass incarceration and repairing its extensive collateral consequences thus must begin by focusing on the front end of the system: police work. Recognizing the roughly 18,000 police agencies around the country as gatekeepers of the system, this report explores the factors driving mass enforcement, particularly of low-level offenses; what police agencies could do instead with the right community investment, national and local leadership, and officer training, incentives, and support; and policies that could shift the policing paradigm away from the reflexive use of enforcement, which unnecessarily criminalizes people and leads directly to the jailhouse door."

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Link to F…

Mental Illness Plays Only "Limited" Role in Mass Violence: Paper

"Mental illness plays an 'important but limited role' in mass violence, according to a paper prepared for the National Council for Behavioral Health by the Medical Director Institute (MDI).

'While there is a modest link between mental illness and violence, there is no basis for the public’s generalized fear of people with mental illness,' said the paper, which summed up a recent panel of experts on mass violence convened by the MDI.

'Having a psychiatric diagnosis is neither necessary nor sufficient as a risk factor for committing an act of mass violence.'

The paper noted that mass violence is 'rare,' and has accounted for less than two-tenths of one percent of homicides in the U.S. between 2000 and 2016, even though the U.S. stands out among other advanced countries because of the frequent use of guns by violence perpetrators.

Efforts to tie such incidents to mental illness are understandable but misleading, the paper said."

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Model Practices for Parents in Prisons and Jails

"This report offers a comprehensive guide to inform correctional administrators in their efforts to reduce barriers to incarcerated parents’ contact and communication with their children. Informed by leading experts in the field and individuals directly affected by parental incarceration, the guide describes many low-cost, high-impact practices and provides administrators with evidence on the effectiveness of recommended practices and helpful tips and resources for successful implementation. Examples of family-friendly practices include designing welcoming visitor lobbies, providing parenting and parent-child relationship programming, allowing for contact visiting, coaching parents on telephone calls with their kids, hosting family activity days, and conducting family-inclusive reentry planning."

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Link to Full Report

James Alan Fox: There is no Evidence of an Epidemic of Mass Shootings

"The horrific mass killings in El Paso and Dayton have understandably inspired terror in America and calls for expanded gun control, predictive policing, and mental health interventions designed to reduce violence.

But Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, the leading researcher on the topic for the past 35 years, tells Reason, 'There is no evidence that we are in the midst of an epidemic of mass shootings.' The number of incidents and casualties are simply too small to make such claims and, he stresses, the media coverage of shootings often ends up creating a false sense that gun violence—which is at or near historic lows—is ubiquitous and growing.

In a wide-ranging interview with Nick Gillespie, Fox explains the common characteristics of mass killers, why violent crime involving guns has declined over the past several decades, and how cable TV and social media contribute to a false sense of panic."

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"Red Flags" and Guns

"Issuing extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), commonly referred to as 'red flag' orders, could reduce mass shootings, according to recent case studies.

Almost 80 percent of perpetrators of mass shootings had made threats in advance or somehow indicated in advance their plans for violent actions, according to a study published in the latest issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

In three of the most notorious mass shooting incidents—Parkland, Fl., Aurora, Co., and Tucson, Az.—all of the shooters were recognized by friends, relatives, law enforcement or health care professionals members to be at a 'high risk' for committing violence, the study authors said.

The case studies were prepared by researchers from the Violence Protection Research Program at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine. They evaluated California’s 2016 statute establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), the first of its kind in the United States."

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How the Justice System Can Reward "Going Straight"

"After punishment, is there room for society to acknowledge an offender’s efforts to turn his or her life around?

Two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Law School argue that the criminal justice system should publicly celebrate cases where those who have been convicted of a crime show remorse and atone for their behavior.

'The criminal justice system traditionally performed its public functions – condemning criminal conduct, shaming and stigmatizing violators, promoting societal norms – through the use of negative examples: convicting and punishing criminal offenders,' wrote Paul H. Robinson and Muhammad Sarahne in a research paper entitled The Opposite of Punishment: Imagining a Path to Public Redemption.

'One could imagine, however, that the same public functions could also be performed through the use of positive examples.'

Creating a path to redemption and offering uplifting examples of those who have taken this path would encourage others …

The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Human Momentum

"How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate? Here we propose that the effects of social movements increase as they gain momentum. We approximate a simple law drawn from physics: momentum equals mass times velocity (p = mv). We propose that the momentum of dissent is a product of participation (mass) and the number of protest events in a week (velocity). We test this simple physical proposition against panel data on the potential effects of movement momentum on irregular leader exit in African countries between 1990 and 2014, using a variety of estimation techniques. Our findings show that social movements potentially compensate for relatively modest popular support by concentrating their activities in time, thus increasing their disruptive capacity. Notably, these findings also provide a straightforward way for dissidents to easily quantify their coercive potential by assessing their participation rates and increase…

Does Stop and Search Reduce Crime?

"Despite recent declines in its use, stop and search continues to be one of the most controversial powers vested in police in England and Wales. Yet until recently there has been surprisingly little research assessing its effectiveness in reducing crime. In this briefing we attempt to redress this imbalance. Starting with an overview of recent trends in the use of stop and search, we then draw on our own research, as well as a number of other recently published studies, to suggest that its overall effect on crime is likely to be at best marginal. Existing research evidence seems to converge on this conclusion. This, we suggest, means that questions of the effectiveness of stop and search cannot be considered independently of the wider issues that surround the power: social and cultural understandings of what police are for; and a clear-eyed view of the impact policing has for those individuals and communities subject to it."

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