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Racist Algorithms or Systemic Problems? Risk Assessments and Racial Disparities

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CE Credits: 1 Credits
Length: 1 Hour
Level: Introductory
CE Eligibility: APA, ASWB ACE, ANCC, CPA, NYSED
Training Style: Video
Category: GIFR Membership Exclusive
Intended Audience: Mental Health, Correctional, and Legal Professionals

Training Description
As recent and historical events attest; racial and ethnic disparities are widely engrained into the justice system. Recently, scholars and policymakers have raised concerns that risk assessment instruments may exacerbate these disparities. While it is critical that risk instruments be scrutinized for racial bias, some concerns, though well-meaning, have gone beyond the evidence. This article explains what it means for an instrument to be ‘biased’ and why instruments should not all be painted with the same brush (some will be more susceptible to bias than others). If some groups get apprehended more, those groups will score higher on non-biased, well-validated instruments derived to maximize prediction of recidivism because of mathematics. Thus, risk instruments shine a light on long-standing systemic problems of racial disparities. This presentation will conclude with suggestions for research and for minimizing disparities by suggesting that systems use appropriately validated risk assessment instruments to avoid unnecessary incarceration while also allowing for structured discretion.
Presenter Bio
Gina Vincent, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Implementation Science & Practice Advances Research Center (iSPARC) and Co-Director of the Law & Psychiatry Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She also is President of the National Youth Screening and Assessment Partners (NYSAP), a technical assistance center that works with juvenile justice agencies in their selection and implementation of screening and assessment instruments. Dr. Vincent has received funding from NIMH, NIDA, the MacArthur Foundation, OJJDP, and NIJ for studies relevant to implementation of risk for reoffending instruments, and mental health and substance abuse among youth involved in the juvenile justice system. She has over 70 publications and over 100 presentations to international, national, and local conferences in the areas of violence risk assessment, implementing risk/needs assessment in juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse, callous-unemotional traits, and mental health symptoms.
Learning Objectives
At the end of this training, participants will be able to…
  • Describe at least three ways in which risk assessment instruments differ.
  • Discuss and apply differences between the concepts of racial bias in assessment and racial disparities.
  • Identify and scrutinize risk assessment instruments based on their likelihood of having race-related test bias.

1 Sponsorship: The Global Institute of Forensic Research, Inc is approved by the American Psychological Association, National Board of Certified Counselors, National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, and Canadian Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education trainings. The American Nurses Credentialing Center accepts Continuing Education Credit sponsored by the American Psychological Association. The Global Institute of Forensic Research, Inc (provider #1371) is also approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. ACE provider approval period: 6/8/2022-6/8/2025. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. The Global Institute of Forensic Research, Inc maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.
2 Refund/Cancellation Policy: If you wish to request a refund on account of technical difficulties, please contact [email protected].
3 Commercial Supports: The Global Institute of Forensic Research, Inc reports no conflicts of interest in the development and sponsorship of this training. The Global Institute of Forensic Research, Inc receives no commercial support for its Continuing Education programs or from its presenters.

Note 1: The CPA's approval of an individual, group, or organization as a CE Sponsor or Provider is restricted to the activities described in the approved application or annual report form. The CPA's approval does not extend to any other CE activity the Sponsor or Provider might offer. In granting its approval, the CPA assumes no legal or financial obligations to Sponsors, Providers, or to those individuals who might participate in a Sponsor or Provider's CE activities or programs. Further, responsibility for the content, provision, and delivery of any CE activity approved by the CPA remains that of the CE Sponsor or Provider. The CPA disclaims all legal liability associated with the content, provision, and delivery of the approved CE activity.