Sims, Risk Assessment Task Force applaud postponement of new tool vote

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today applauded the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission’s decision to postpone the vote on the risk assessment tool, scheduled for this Thursday.

“The commission made the right decision,” Sims said. “If the tool can’t be shown to be accurate enough for courts to use and if we don’t know whether the tool is fair to racial minorities, if it doesn’t actually identify candidates for alternative sentencing but only people who might get accused and arrested, we can’t move forward – at least not without further information.

“Along with the Risk Assessment Task Force, I look forward to working with the commission in the future to ensure equal treatment for defendants and develop fair and unbiased instruments. We cannot have a fair criminal justice system within our state if the guidelines we use are imbalanced and unfair," said Marni Snyder, co-chairwoman of the task force.

The Risk Assessment Task Force was created by Sims and Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Marni Snyder in spring 2016 to bring together a diverse field of practitioners, scholars, jurists and advocates concerned about the implementation of risk assessment tools in criminal case sentencing. It includes both prosecutors and members of the defense bar, to evaluate the proposed tools from a balanced perspective.