Whether or not you know someone who has spent time in the carceral system, the system still impacts your daily life. If you are pro-prison, a prison abolitionist, or somewhere in between, you are still impacted. Incarcerating people directly relates to the well-being (governmental (local/state/federal), economic (financial), political, social, environmental, healthcare (physical/mental), educational, etc.) of the U.S. How is the increasing wealth gap connected to the carceral system? 


Videos on the Carceral System (Optional) 

I have found a few short videos that should provide you with basic information on the carceral system. Please note: that some of the videos are older and may not reflect the current lexicon. 


The History of Mass Incarceration

Equal Justice Initiative. (2015, July 7). Slavery to Mass Incarceration. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.)


Brief History of the Juvenile Carceral System

The Root. (2018, March 13). History of the Juvenile Justice System. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.) 


Problems with the Juvenile Carceral System

KXAN. (2020, December 5). State of Texas: The promise of juvenile justice reform. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.) 

PBS NewsHour. (2021, October 28). The juvenile justice system is broken. Here is what actually works. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.) 


The Impact of Mass Incarceration

vlogbrothers. (2014, April 4). Mass Incarceration in the US. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.)


The 1994 Crime Bill & Mandatory Sentencing

NBC News. (2019, August 13). What Is The 1994 Crime Bill? YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.)



General Data

Bureau of Justice Statistics (Links to an external site.)

Prison Policy Initiative (Links to an external site.) 

The Marshall Project: Algorithms (Links to an external site.) 

The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (Links to an external site.) 

The Sentencing Project (Links to an external site.) 

U.S. Census: Criminal Justice Statistics (Links to an external site.)



Discussion Overview

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms in the carceral system.  

The carceral system is too expansive to cover on a micro-level in just one discussion. I usually select an issue or a pending legal case for the class to discuss. For this discussion, I would like for you to focus on how artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are used in the carceral system as a whole. The benefits and biases of AI have been examined in various industries. There is a documentary on Netflix called Coded Bias if you are interested in learning more. You will need to select a topic related to how algorithms are used in the carceral system and create an infographic or TikTok video. With varied topics, we should all learn something new. I have included a data piece to challenge you to view data as a tool to back up your viewpoint with numbers. When data is leveraged with public policy, it can become a powerful tool to address sustainable societal issues. I borrowed this activity from Dr. Rachel Ellis, please review the citation below. You may visit the tweet from Dr. Ellis for examples. The 300-word limit will not apply to this discussion, however, your infographic or TikTok video will still be graded based on the rubric. 

Optional Videos on Algorithms 

Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education. (2022, January 21). Law, Order, & Algorithms: A Computational Approach to Criminal Justice Reform. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.)  (59:30 minutes)  

Oxford Law Faculty. (2021, February 5). Predictive Algorithms in the Justice System: The implications of neutrality logics. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.)  (41:43 minutes) 

TEDx Talks. (2018, October 2). The danger of predictive algorithms in criminal justice | Hany Farid | TEDxAmoskeagMillyard. YouTube. [Video]. (Links to an external site.)  (18:29 minutes) 



Your infographic or TikTok video must include the following items

  1. Your name
  2. Title of how algorithms are used in the carceral system
  3. Facts about your topic illustrated in at least 3 data points (statistics)
  4. Succinctly describe the larger societal implications to society
  5. 3 possible solutions to the problem
  6. Include at least 2 cited sources. Due to space limitations, you may only be able to list the link to the sources in the infographic or TikTok video. You must add the entire cited source to the discussion thread to receive credit. 
  7. Upload (attach) the PDF version of your infographic or the link to your TikTok video to the discussion. Let me know if you have difficulty converting your work into a PDF document or uploading your infographic. Feel free to send me your PDF document via Canvas message and I will upload your document to the discussion for you.

 Your infographic and data must be related to how algorithms are used in the carceral system. If you create a TikTok video then you must include captions.


Free Infographic Resource

Canva (Links to an external site.)


Possible Topics: 

  • Strategies to regulate algorithms that are used in the carceral system.
  • What accountability should the creators of biased algorithms in the carceral system face? 
  • The negative impact to the LGBTQ+ community when algorithms are used in sentencing.
  • How often should algorithms that are used in the carceral system be audited?
  • Should we stop using algorithms in the carceral system and rely on human judgment? 
  • When to stop using algorithms in the carceral system.
  • Who should sit on the governing board to regulate the algorithms? What background should they have (experience, industry, judges or community advocates, etc.) 
  • Should algorithms in the carceral system be adjusted to wealth or income level? 
  • What laws are needed to ensure that algorithms in the carceral system are not harmful? 
  • How should algorithms in the carceral system be adjusted to accommodate individuals with disabilities? 
  • What data (recidivism, past history of criminal activity, etc.) should be considered when creating algorithms for the carceral system? 
  • What safeguards are needed for when algorithms are wrong and violent individuals are freed only to commit more crimes? 
  • Restructuring algorithms in the arrests and sentencing of drug-related crimes 
  • Addressing the gender gap when algorithms are used in sentencing



Ellis, Rachel [@RachelEllisPhD]. “I asked the students in my undergraduate Corrections class to create infographics. Here are some of the many incredible submissions on important issues related to punishment in the US criminal justice system. (Shared with permission)” Twitter, 17 May 2021,  (Links to an external site.)


Suggested Reading

Johnson, C. (2022, January 26). Flaws plague a tool meant to help low-risk federal prisoners win early release. NPR. (Links to an external site.) 

Kolowich Cox, L. (n.d.). How to Create an Infographic in Under an Hour. HubSpot. (Links to an external site.) (There is a video attached to the article.) 

Massaro, V., Dhar, S., Mir, D., & Ryan, N. (2021, December). Analyzing a Carceral Algorithm used by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. ResearchGate. (Links to an external site.) 

Mclaughlin, D. (2020, June 11). What Conservative Law-Enforcement Reforms Should Look Like. National Review. (Links to an external site.) 

Murray, S. (2018, April 23). Using data science to improve public policy. MIT News. (Links to an external site.) 

Nellis, A. (2016, June 14). The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons. The Sentencing Project. (Links to an external site.)

Ofer, U. (2019, June 4). How the 1994 Crime Bill Fed the Mass Incarceration Crisis. ACLU. (Links to an external site.)

Sawyer, W. & Wagner, P. (2020, March 24). Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020. Prison Policy Initiative. (Links to an external site.) 

Teles, S. M. & Dagan, D. (2016, Spring). Conservatives and Criminal Justice. National Affairs. (Links to an external site.) 

Texas Alliance for Safe Communities. (n.d.). Justice Reform Myth Vs. Fact. (Links to an external site.) 

Texas Jail Project. (2020, April 18). Why is it important to differentiate between county jails & state prisons? (Links to an external site.) 

Wides, E. (2021, July 13). East Texas inmate advocate speaks against bill that would make it harder for some to bond out of jail. KLTV. (Links to an external site.) 

Widra, E. (2021, July 12). New data: People with incarcerated loved ones have shorter life expectancies and poorer health. Prison Policy Initiative. (Links to an external site.) 

Wilson Gilmore, R. & Kilgore, J. (2019, June 19). The Case for Abolition. The Marshall Project. (Links to an external site.) 

Young, A. & Zahuranec, A. (2020, June 20). How Data Can Map and Make Racial Inequality More Visible (If Done Responsibly). Medium. (Links to an external site.)