Stateside: Using algorithms to set bail; Michigan is a pickle powerhouse; invasive lanternfly risk

Apr 15, 2019

Today on Stateside, does a new pretrial risk assessment tool aimed at helping judges answer complex pretrial questions help or hurt defendants? Plus, we talk to an expert about the spotted lanternfly, a destructive invasive insect that could be making its way to Michigan. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Algorithms can speed up court process, bail decisions, but not without shortcomings

  • There are a lot of quick decisions judges need to make at pretrial hearings. Should a defendant be released on bail? If so, how much should that bail be? How likely is it the defendant will show up in court again? The Michigan Supreme Court has launched a pilot program testing a pretrial risk assessment tool called the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) that uses a predictive algorithm to help judges answer those questions.
  • Matthew DeMichele is Director of the Center for Courts and Corrections Research at RTI International. He was the lead author of a study that looked into the use of PSA in Kentucky courts. He joined Stateside to talk about the benefits and the shortcomings of the technology. 

More Michigan courts are testing the use of algorithms to set bail. Is that a good thing for defendants? 

  • Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith spent time in two of the district courts taking part in the Public Safety Assessment pilot program. She tells us what judges there think of the new tool, and the concerns some critics have about the tool's ability to create an accurate risk assessment of individual defendants. 

Why Michigan is a pickle powerhouse 

  • As Nina Misuraca Ignaczak recently wrote in an article for Crain’s Detroit Business, Michigan is by far the nation’s biggest pickle producer. Ignaczak tells us about the history of pickle production in the state, how pickle tastes are changing, and what the future of this industry is in Michigan. 

Large scale U.P. coal plant closes

  • The last coal plant to provide electricity in the Upper Peninsula ceased its operations earlier this month. The Presque Isle Power Plant had provided electricity for more than 60 years. Interlochen Public Radio's Taylor Wizner brings us this story. 

Toledo suburbs propose tapping into aquifer shared by 20 other MI and OH communities

  • Disputes centered around water use and access are happening more frequently across the country, including here in Michigan. Tom Henry writes about the environment for the Toledo Blade, and he's covering one such dispute over the Michindoh aquifer. It's a water source for around 20 smaller communities in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and there's a controversial proposal to sell water from the aquifer to several, much-larger Toledo suburbs.  

Invasive lanternfly wreaking havoc in the Northeast poses threat to Michigan plants, crops

  • Biologists are monitoring yet another invasive species that could pose a threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem: the spotted lanternfly. Heather Leach is with the Department of Entomology at Penn State. She joined Stateside to talk about the destructive insect that has shown up in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, and tells us what damage it could do if it makes its way to Michigan. 

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