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Welcome to NYC School of Data — a community conference that demystifies the policies and practices around civic data, technology, and service design. This year’s conference kicks off NYC’s annual Open Data Week & features OVER 30 sessions organized by NYC’s civic technology, data, and design community! Our conversations & workshops will feed your mind and empower you to improve your neighborhood. Follow the conversation #nycSOdata on twitter and tune into our live stream (provided by the Internet Society of New York).
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Saturday, March 2 • 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Parole Denied: One Man's Fight Against COMPAS and Algorithmic Decision Making facilitated by Legal-Aid Society

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Team: Glenn Rodriguez, Senior Case Manager at Center for Community Alternatives & Cynthia Conti-Cook, Data & Society fellow 2018-2019, Staff Attorney at the Special Litigation Unit of The Legal Aid Society (NYC)

The "Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions" or "COMPAS" risk assessment instruments used in Florida criminal sentencing hearings sparked a national debate in 2016 when ProPublica published Machine Bias. That debate centered on whether the algorithm was biased against people of color, who were more likely to be identified by the instrument as "high risk". COMPAS is also used in prisons across the country to determine whether someone should be eligible for release. One of the questions a prison counselor must answer on the COMPAS risk assessment is whether the person appears to have "notable disciplinary issues: yes, no or unsure." Within prisons where this instrument is used, Question 19 has become a notorious example among the men and women who are its subject of how risk assessment instruments in the criminal justice system get it wrong. Meet Glenn Rodriguez and learn about his struggle to get the state prison to change his answer from “yes” to “no” based on the many years he had gone without any discipline. Learn about the legal hurdles to challenging this question or even learning more about how it operates within the larger risk assessment tool. Discuss how this issue is an example of larger issues with how technology built on already unjust systems amplify, rather than address, systemic unfairness.


Cynthia Conti-Cook

Staff Attorney, Special Litigation Unit, Legal Aid Society
Cynthia Conti-Cook is a staff attorney in the Special Litigation Unit of The Legal Aid Society in NYC, where she supervises the Cop Accountability Database, leads impact litigation and law reform projects on policing, data collection, risk assessment instruments, and the criminal... Read More →

Glenn Rodriguez

Senior Case Manager, Center for Community Alternatives

Saturday March 2, 2019 1:45pm - 2:45pm EST
Hudson Square 302 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013