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Abstract: "Today, states across the U.S. are embracing “evidence-based policies and practices” to reduce the economic – and to a lesser extent social – pressures of mass incarceration. At sentencing, scholars divide on whether the introduction of data-driven actuarial tools to predict a defendant’s likelihood of committing future crimes will improve or destroy criminal sentencing. This paper offers important historical and philosophical context regarding the increasing significance of recidivism risk at sentencing and the expansion of actuarial tools in recent years. These tools crystallize the problematic social policies implemented since the 1980s to undercut the social safety net while reaffirming deeply problematic and pervasive assumptions about race, crime, and dangerousness. This Article theorizes reversal of the tools such that it operates as a mechanism to combat racial and social isolation in the United States rather than perpetuate it."
Jessica Eaglin is an expert in the area of sentencing law and policy. She also teaches courses on criminal law and evidence. Her scholarship examines state and federal responses to the economic and social pressures of mass incarceration in the United States, with a particular focus on recidivism risk predictions. She serves as a member of Uber Technology, Inc.'s inaugural Safety Advisory Board. Before joining the Maurer faculty, Professor Eaglin worked as Counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and clerked with the Honorable Damon J. Keith for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She received her B.A. from Spelman College and both a Masters of Arts in Literature and a J.D. from Duke University. At Princeton, she will further explore the intersection of employer background check policies and recidivism risk prediction in the era of mass incarceration.
Naomi Murakawa is an associate professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She studies the reproduction of racial inequality in 20th and 21st century American politics, with specialization in crime policy and the carceral state. She is the author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America (Oxford University Press, 2014), and her work has appeared in Law & Society Review, Theoretical Criminology, Du Bois Review, and several edited volumes. She has received fellowships from Columbia Law School’s Center for the Study of Law and Culture, as well the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Program.