Holder: Big data is leading to ‘fundamental unfairness’ in drug sentencing


Attorney General Eric Holder told PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill on Thursday that he’s worried about the criminal justice system relying on so-called big data, in some states, for its drug sentencing. States should, the attorney general said, base a sentence on a person’s conduct and not on factors such as education level, neighborhood background, among others as a predictor to determine a person’s likelihood to repeat a crime.

“Using group data to make an individualized determination, I think, can result in fundamental unfairness,” Holder said.

In January, the attorney general proposed a plan that would reduce drug sentences for those involved with minor drug crimes and remove mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, a change that would help alleviate overflowing U.S. federal prisons.