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The centuries-old process of releasing defendants on bail, long the province of judicial discretion, is getting a major assist ... courtesy of artificial intelligence.Cash bail, which is designed to ensure that people charged with crimes turn up for trial, has been part of the U.S. court system for centuries.A bipartisan bail reform movement has found an alternative to cash bail: AI algorithms that can scour through large sets of courthouse data to search for associations and predict which people are most likely to flee or commit another crime.Experts say the use of these risk assessments may be the biggest shift in courtroom decision-making since American judges began accepting social science and other expert evidence more than a century ago. Critics, however, worry that such algorithms could end up supplanting judges' own judgment, and might even perpetuate biases in ostensibly neutral form.Defendants who receive low scores are recommended for release under court supervision.The scores marked Shepherd as a prime candidate for pretrial release with low bail.Smiling, Shepherd walked out of the courtroom.Shepherd says he wouldn't have been able to afford bail.
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