Sarah A. Riley


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I’m an IDEAL Provostial Fellow at Stanford University, where I work with Angèle Christin in the Department of Communication. I completed my PhD in information science at Cornell University, where I was fortunate to be advised by Karen LevySolon Barocas, and Martin Wells.

I study municipal algorithmic systems, race/ism, and inequality. My recent work focuses on the administration of pretrial risk assessments in Virginia. I use a mixed-methods approach that combines ethnographic observations and causal inference techniques to understand how human discretion in the pretrial process—particularly on the part of pretrial officers—influences risk scores, pretrial detention decisions, and life outcomes for accused people.

My interest in municipal algorithmic systems arose while working at the New York City Department of Education to re-engage out-of-school youth and volunteering for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a national coalition working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.

I also have a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and work experience with a variety of organizations, including Data 4 Black Lives and Crime Lab New York. My research has been supported by the Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship, the MacArthur Foundation, UCLA’s Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy.