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Lauren Kirchner

Senior Reporting Fellow

Photo of Lauren Kirchner

Lauren Kirchner is a senior reporting fellow at ProPublica. She has covered digital security and press freedom issues for the Columbia Journalism Review, and crime and criminal justice for Pacific Standard magazine. She began her journalism career at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia. She has a B.A. in philosophy from Wesleyan University, and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she received the Louis Winnick Prize for reporting and a Pulitzer Travel Fellowship.

Federal Judge Unseals New York Crime Lab’s Software for Analyzing DNA Evidence

We asked the judge to make the source code public after scientists and defense attorneys raised concerns that flaws in its design may have resulted in innocent people going to prison.

Putting Crime Scene DNA Analysis on Trial

We reported on a dispute over the methods used by New York City’s crime lab to analyze complex DNA samples. Now similar concerns are prompting a national study. In this Q&A, a leading expert explains why labs may be making mistakes — and what can be done about it.

ProPublica Seeks Source Code for New York City’s Disputed DNA Software

We’re asking a federal court for the code behind a technique that critics say may have put innocent people in prison.

Thousands of Criminal Cases in New York Relied on Disputed DNA Testing Techniques

New York City’s crime lab has been a pioneer nationally in analyzing especially difficult DNA samples. But the recent disclosure of the source code for its proprietary software is raising new questions about accuracy.

Despite Disavowals, Leading Tech Companies Help Extremist Sites Monetize Hate

Most tech companies have policies against working with hate websites. Yet a ProPublica survey found that PayPal, Stripe, Newsmax and others help keep more than half of the most-visited extremist sites in business.

Lawmakers Seek Stronger Monitoring of Racial Disparities in Car Insurance Premiums

In response to our report that minority neighborhoods pay higher premiums than white areas with the same risk, six members of Congress and two Illinois state senators are pushing for closer scrutiny of insurance practices.

Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With the Same Risk

Our analysis of premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri shows that some major insurers charge minority neighborhoods as much as 30 percent more than other areas with similar accident costs.

Where Traditional DNA Testing Fails, Algorithms Take Over

Powerful software is solving more crimes and raising new questions about due process.

Super PAC to Billionaire: We Need More Money to Save a Republican Senate

An errant email from a PAC supporting Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania highlights Republican anxiety: “Trump has taken a real hit this week.”

DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit

Police in Florida and other states are building up private DNA databases, in part by collecting voluntary samples from people not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime.

Wisconsin Court: Warning Labels Are Needed for Scores Rating Defendants’ Risk of Future Crime

The court said judges can look at the scores – so long as their limitations are made clear.

The Senate’s Popular Sentencing Reform Bill Would Sort Prisoners By ‘Risk Score’

Federal prisoners would be scored according to their risk of recidivating. Those who got high scores would be ineligible for sentence reduction.

What Algorithmic Injustice Looks Like in Real Life

A computer program rated defendants’ risk of committing a future crime. These are the results.

Machine Bias

There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks.

What’s the Evidence Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much

Officials are again pointing to the need for mass surveillance to take down terrorists. Here’s what we know about how well it works.

Uber's Surge Pricing May Not Lead to a Surge in Drivers

Uber’s surge pricing doesn’t necessarily increase the availability of rides. It just makes them more expensive.

Your Smart Home Knows a Lot About You

A data scientist’s experiment reveals surprising information about interconnected smart devices.

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