Negotiamini Media
Truth is Powerful

These young activists are battling all-knowing tech


The teenagers of Encode Justice are sick of being preyed upon by supposedly helpful algorithms. When California voters passed a bill to end cash bail in 2018, the legislation seemed great on its surface. Activists have repeatedly pointed out problems with bail, namely that it preys on low-income people and communities of color. But the law, known as Senate Bill 10, was delayed taking effect, thanks to bond industry lobbyists who successfully got a referendum on S.B.10 onto the 2020 ballot. That’s when San Jose high school student Sneha Revanur came across the debate over S.B.10 — and she realized the law would come at a great cost.

S.B.10’s sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, described the bill as the “ground zero in the fight over criminal justice reform.” But the bill has one key issue: If you get rid of cash bail while allowing jails to stay, then something needs to replace bail in the system. In California, politicians planned to use pretrial risk assessment tools, where algorithms would determine who stayed in jail and who went free.

Supporters of S.B.10 touted the power of algorithms to solve racial bias, but the proposal left a sour taste in Revanur’s mouth. […]

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