Addressing Inequality Through Modeling: Updating Public Defense Funding Models in Washington State
The Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) has identified multiple shortcomings in their county funding distribution methodology including: missing variables, disequitable funding allocation, difficulties in interpretability, and arbitrary or unfounded model coefficients. We consider and evaluate a least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) model to attempt to address the considerations raised by the OPD. We, further, use unsupervised Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to reduce dimensionality and support our model creation. The goal of this report is to create an updated model for the OPD that addresses inequity in funding distribution through the inclusion of additional socioeconomic variables while simultaneously reducing model arbitrariness and increasing transparency.