What Next: TBD

Do Algorithms Make Sentencing Fairer?

Thirty-five states are using algorithms to help judges make better decisions. Are they working?


Episode Notes

Around the country, states are employing algorithms to help reduce prison populations and predict recidivism. This week, we hear from a Wisconsin judge with serious reservations about the algorithm used in his state. Also: a deep dive into Virginia’s risk-assessment algorithm and the surprising results of its implementation.

Nicholas McNamara, judge on the circuit court of Dane County, Wisconsin
Jennifer Doleac, associate professor of economics at Texas A&M and director of the Justice Tech Lab


About the Show

Every Friday and Sunday, Slate’s popular daily news podcast What Next brings you TBD, a clear-eyed look into the future. From fake news to fake meat, algorithms to augmented reality, Lizzie O’Leary is your guide to the tech industry and the world it’s creating for us to live in.

All episodes


  • Lizzie O’Leary is the host of What Next: TBD, Slate’s show about technology, power, and the future. Previously, she created and hosted Marketplace Weekend. She has reported for CNN, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She is also a contributing writer at the Atlantic.