“Our criminal justice system isn’t as smart as it should be.” — President Obama, July 15, 2015
This summer, President Obama addressed the 106th NAACP convention to lay out the reasons we need to reform the criminal justice system.
The numbers speak for themselves. The U.S. has 2.2 million prisoners, up 400% since 1977. The U.S. has 25% of the world’s prisoners, but the U.S. is only 5% of the global population. And 60% of U.S. prisoners are black or Latino.
As a society, we’re using criminal justice in place of social services for some of our most sick and vulnerable citizens — 68% have substance abuse issues, and 50% have a serious mental illness.
But it’s not just the President who is pushing for reform. Republican presidential candidates, like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie, are also advocating for a fairer system. The Koch brothers have collaborated with the Center for American Progress and the Arnold Foundation on efforts to reduce mass incarceration.
We are reaching a pivot point in our criminal justice system.
To explore how criminal justice is changing, especially in an age of technology and big data, Harvard Kennedy School hosted a panel discussion on November 13 entitled Criminal Justice in the Age of Big Data. Co-sponsored by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, the Center for Public Leadership, and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the panel featured:
- Nicole Wong. Former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer; former Legal Director of Products, Twitter; and former VP & Deputy General Counsel, Google.
- Clarence Wardell, Former Presidential Innovation Fellow, working on the Police Data Initiative; Berkman Center affiliate, and currently in the White House U.S. Digital Service.
- Cynthia Rudin, Associate Professor of Statistics, MIT CSAIL and Sloan School of Management; Berkman Center faculty affiliate.
Listen to the audio:
Sponsored by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, and the Center for Public Leadership.