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Money counters help police keep the criminal justice system efficient

The criminal justice system relies on accuracy and efficiency, and money counters allow law enforcement to meet these standards. Unfortunately, the technology officials use is sometimes inaccurate, as a ProPublica investigation revealed. Officers need tools that are efficient and exact to best perform their role in the judiciary process.

Money counters are more accurate than other technology

As ProPublica detailed, risk assessment software - technology that assigns defendants a score from 1 to 10 based on their risk of recidivism - is often wildly inaccurate. One particular program, Northpointe, relies on data obtained from public records and provided by the suspect. This information includes the person's level of education, employment status, ties to the community, whether the defendant is related to a person in jail and more. Northpointe also asks suspects a series of moral and ethical questions.

Such software attempts to streamline the system by combating rising prison populations. By forecasting future criminal risk, these companies believe judges can make more informed sentencing decisions - for instance, sending a person to mandatory drug treatment as opposed to jail. However, because these programs are often incorrect, they actually run the risk of making things more complicated for an already over-burdened system. Consider the cases of Brisha Borden, a teenage girl with a handful of misdemeanors, and Vernon Prater, a middle-aged man with multiple armed robbery charges who served five years for attempted armed robbery. When Borden was arrested and charged with petty theft for stealing a child's bicycle and scooter, a risk assessment program gave her an 8, classifying her as a person highly likely to commit a future crime. Prater, who stole $86.35 worth of merchandise from a hardware store, received a low-risk score 3. Two years later, while Borden had not received any new charges, Prater was serving an eight-year sentence for stealing thousands of dollars' worth of electronics from a warehouse he broke into.

This is just one of many cases risk assessment software has gotten wrong over the years, but it doesn't mean all criminal justice technology is inaccurate. A Rhode Island senator credits these programs with a 17 percent reduction in the number of state prisoners. Still, all aspects of the criminal justice system, from arrest to trial to sentencing, rely on authentic, specific information.

Law enforcement officers are duty-bound to do their jobs with the utmost accuracy. While other elements of the criminal justice system may lack such precision, officers can rely on money counters to quickly and correctly count cash, scan serial numbers and record monetary evidence.

November 15, 2016