The impact that pretrial risk or risk and needs assessment (RNA) tools have on criminal justice decisions is usually relative to each jurisdiction. After all, states use different tools at different times for different purposes. How much risk assessment tools exacerbate or mitigate bias within criminal justice processes, therefore, often comes down to how they’re designed, validated and considered by a judge or correctional officer.

But outside of individual implementations, the use of risk assessments as a whole, and the value—or lack thereof—they provide is a matter of intense debate.

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