Anne Milgram: Why Smart Statistics Are The Key to Fighting Crime

Some people call it data science, but Anne Milgram calls it “moneyballing criminal justice.” If the use of smart data and statistics in making player decisions was good enough for the Oakland A’s, Milgram figured it’d be good enough for the legal system. In this TED Talk: Why Smart Statistics are the Key to Fighting Crime, she discusses her past role as New Jersey’s attorney general and her quest to understand “who we were arresting, who we were charging, and who we were putting in jail.”

What she quickly discovered was that many of those decisions were based on a system of gut instincts and sticky notes. With a yearning to enforce the law in a more objective and data-based manner, Milgram assembled a team of data scientists and researchers to build a universal risk assessment tool, which gives judges and other decision-makers a data-driven approach to support better decision-making.

A former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and at the U.S. Department of Justice, Anne Milgram was appointed as New Jersey’s attorney general in 2007, overseeing 21 prosecutors and some 30,000 law enforcement officers. She is currently the vice president of criminal justice at the Arnold Foundation. A graduate of Rutgers, Milgram also holds a Master of Philosophy degree in social and political theory from Cambridge, and a law degree from NYU School of Law — where she serves as a senior fellow on the administration of criminal law.