Computational Policy Lab

Reducing Pretrial Incarceration with Open-Source Technology

Every day American jails hold half a million people who have not been convicted of a crime, creating social and economic hardships for individuals who might be held for months awaiting court dates and costing local governments $13.6 billion each year. Sharad Goel, assistant professor of management science and engineering, and a team at the Stanford Computational Policy Lab are working with the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender and The Bail Project to create and implement an open-source app that improves the likelihood people will show up to court dates, including reminders and arranging transportation. The idea is that by increasing the number of people who make court dates, judges will be less likely to issue warrants for arrest, deny bail, or set bail higher than people can afford. “Through these platforms, our research will directly improve pretrial outcomes for thousands of individuals across the country every year,” Goel said.

Lab: Computational Policy Lab

Principal Investigator: Sharad Goel, Management Science & Engineering 

Co-Principal Investigators: Guillaume Basse, Management Science & Engineering, Statistics; Emma Brunskill, Computer Science

Research Team: Sophie Allen, Sociology, Law School; Alex Chohlas-Wood, Management Science & Engineering; Madison Coots, Management Science & Engineering; Amelia Goodman, Computational Policy Lab; Joe Nudell, Management Science & Engineering; Sabina Tomkins, Management Science & Engineering

Partner(s)Santa Clara County Office of the Public DefenderThe Bail Project