« "Dothan drug suspect asks for more prison time" | Main | Is letting prisoners vote a "dangerous idea"? »

August 18, 2010

Need to predict risk of criminal behavior..., there's an app for that!

The title of this post is prompted by this notable new piece from MSNBC headlined "Software predicts criminal behavior: Algorithm could influence sentencing recommendations and bail amounts." Here is how it starts:

New crime prediction software being rolled out in the nation's capital should reduce not only the murder rate, but the rate of many other crimes as well.

Developed by Richard Berk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the software is already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered.

In his latest version, the one being implemented in D.C., Berk goes even further, identifying the individuals most likely to commit crimes other than murder. If the software proves successful, it could influence sentencing recommendations and bail amounts.

"When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is 'what level of supervision do you provide?' said Berk. It used to be that parole officers used the person's criminal record, and their good judgment, to determine that level. "This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations."

August 18, 2010 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20133f326160f970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Need to predict risk of criminal behavior..., there's an app for that!:

Comments

The Supremacy has strongly advocated that the count of 123D begin at 14, and that D happen at the earliest age possible, once the protection of the Supreme Court has been removed from these predators. Every year of life for the lawyer client, causes 100's of serious crimes, including murders. You get more lives back than you would take, because these predators take many lives and get completely away with that, under the immunization and protection of the rent seeking lawyer.

From the article.

"But what really matters is what that person did as a young individual. If they committed armed robbery at age 14 that's a good predictor. If they committed the same crime at age 30, that doesn't predict very much."

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 18, 2010 10:53:17 PM

I guess this is considered to be new because of the computer application. Risk assessment tools have be in use for decades and they continue to improve. All are subject to errors of the first kind where the risk is overestimated (few people are concerned about that) and to errors of the second where the risk is underestimated (most people are concerned about that).

If the prosecutor or judge do not believe in risk assessment tools (it only takes a few nasty surprises for that too happen) they will not be used in setting bail or deciding on a sentence.
It seems to me that it makes the finger pointing game more hi-tech.

Posted by: John Neff | Aug 19, 2010 9:48:54 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB