Friday, July 7, 2017

Loomis vs. Wisconsin Cert Denied

The Supreme Court of the United States denied cert in a case asking to expose the risk algorithm used by Northpointe's COMPAS system.


The New York Times article “In Wisconsin, a Backlash Against Using Data to Foretell Defendants’ Futures” published on June 22, 2016 explains the origin of the matter in the Wisconsin Supreme Court:
“ When Eric L. Loomis was sentenced for eluding the police in La Crosse, Wis., the judge told him he presented a “high risk” to the community and handed down a six-year prison term. 
The judge said he had arrived at his sentencing decision in part because of Mr. Loomis’s rating on the Compas assessment, a secret algorithm used in the Wisconsin justice system to calculate the likelihood that someone will commit another crime. 
Mr. Loomis has challenged the judge’s reliance on the Compas score, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which heard arguments on his appeal in April, could rule in the coming days or weeks. Mr. Loomis’s appeal centers on the criteria used by the Compas algorithm, which is proprietary and as a result is protected, and on the differences in its application for men and women.”
The article continues by briefly explaining the “Compas” system:
"Compas is an algorithm developed by a private company, Northpointe Inc., that calculates the likelihood of someone committing another crime and suggests what kind of supervision a defendant should receive in prison. The results come from a survey of the defendant and information about his or her past conduct. Compas assessments are a data-driven complement to the written presentencing reports long compiled by law enforcement agencies. 
Company officials say the algorithm’s results are backed by research, but they are tight-lipped about its details. They do acknowledge that men and women receive different assessments, as do juveniles, but the factors considered and the weight given to each are kept secret. 
“The key to our product is the algorithms, and they’re proprietary,” said Jeffrey Harmon, Northpointe’s general manager. “We’ve created them, and we don’t release them because it’s certainly a core piece of our business. It’s not about looking at the algorithms. It’s about looking at the outcomes.”
The Supreme Courts in both Wisconsin and Federal levels, therefore, agreed with Northpointe that the algorithms are proprietary and do not need to be disclosed.

More about COMPAS is available at:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s opinion (PDF) can be viewed here.

And the SCOTUS blog summary of the matter in the Supreme Court of the US is available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment