Software Predicts Criminal Behavior

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,” he said.

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1 Comment on Software Predicts Criminal Behavior

  1. Law enforcement does the best job they know how to do with the uneven economics of the time and the climate of public opinion. Asking them to become “seers” based on any computerized program is just nuts. Sure you can say probabilities are interesting, but this program must hinge on humans dislike for change, which as most of us know, in this economic climate, change is necessary for those of us who are economically dependent. To explain, in short, during better economic times the predictors may be right on perhaps 90% or even 95% of the time. During unstable economic times like we have now, the skew on the percentages may change the probabilities 20% or even more. Obviously I am not an expert, but common sense dictates that someone should rethink their methods. It is just an opinion, but even doing surveillance on the members of the American public based on computerized probabilities can wreak some serious havoc on an already overburdened, barely functioning government.

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