PHILADELPHIA–“The Defender Association of Philadelphia opposes the PA Sentencing Commission’s selection of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) as the tool that used to assess the future likelihood of domestic violence against an intimate partner.
The adoption of any Domestic Violence Pretrial Risk Assessment Tool is premature since there has been no effort to perform the necessary validation to ensure the tool is accurate and free of racial or economic bias;
We have specific concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the ODARA because of the information that it relies on and the way that information is collected; and
We believe that by designating individuals who are part of non-traditional or blended families, who have limited resources, and who live in over-policed communities as ‘higher risk’, the ODARA will exacerbate racial disparities in the pretrial release process.
“Finally, we do not believe that these types of actuarial risk assessment tools can–nor should–ever replace an individualized decision-making process where the accused has the benefit of counsel.
For these reasons, ODARA is an inappropriate tool to assess pretrial risk in cases involving allegations of domestic violence.”
The Defender Association of Philadelphia is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides high-quality, client-centered legal representation, connection to social services, and re-entry support to adults and juveniles in Philadelphia. Our organization represents nearly 70 percent of adults and juveniles arrested in the City of Philadelphia.