Coalition to Stop the Cradle to Prison Algorithm Celebrates Hard-Won Victory with the Dissolution of Problematic Data-Sharing Agreement

For Immediate Release 

January 28, 2019

Contacts: Marika Pfefferkorn 612.229.4328, Laura LaBlanc 651.263.0739, Laura Jones 612.322.4300 or

Jaylani Hussein 612-406-0070

Coalition to Stop the Cradle to Prison Algorithm Celebrates Hard-Won Victory with the Dissolution of Problematic Data-Sharing Agreement; Coalition asks for better process moving forward, and structural input into advancing upstream interventions.

After months of grassroots advocacy, the Coalition to Stop the Cradle to Prison Algorithm (CPA Coalition) applauds today’s announcement to dissolve the problematic data-sharing Joint Powers Agreement” (JPA) that had been created to predict youth “at risk” of future delinquency.   The coalition, which involved over 20 organizations and 35 additional St. Paul residents, have asked the agencies to walk away from the faulty process and legal agreement since it was first announced, and to start over again with community as formal partners in advancing upfront services and investments to improve outcomes for youth and families.

“This is the right thing to do,” said Marika Pfefferkorn, CPA Coalition Co-founder and Twin Cities Innovation Alliance (TCIA) Director. “We know that predictive technologies cannot be detached from human bias and error.  And while data can be a tool for positive change, it is also clear that there are many risks that we need to unpack in relationship to the JPA and Big Data, Predictive Analytics and Algorithms and their potential to amplify racial and ethnic disparities in the education and the juvenile justice systems.”

Laura LaBlanc from InEquality adds, “Data can never replace people and relationships, which are the most important elements of successful interventions. We need to invest in the kinds of community-based programming and supports that build upon the strengths of kids and families, not just analyze them for risks. And we need to ensure interagency coordination maintains clear barriers to criminal justice pathways.”

“The political process that created the data sharing agreement excluded communities and families, and could have resulted in serious harm,” Ms. LaBlanc continued. “this process should not have happened, and communities need to know it won’t be repeated. Before agencies move forward with any community engagement process or listening sessions, they should take stock of lessons learned.”

“We appreciate that leadership had the sense to walk away from this, and we have more work to do,” said Ms. Pfefferkorn. “You can’t have authentic conversation or engagement without starting out on equal footing, beginning with common language, as well as understanding both the risks and benefits. Youth, families, community members and elected officials need to be better prepared to have conversations about emerging trends in education including Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Algorithms. And we’re ready deepen our work to do what’s best for our kids.”

The CPA will co-host a community forum with Macalester College Education Department, February 26th from 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Macalester College Library to discuss the JPA and the role of Big Data, Predictive Analytics and Algorithms for event info contact