Police Use Software To Predict Criminals – Before They Commit Crimes

DistrictofColumbiaMPBig Brother beckons … report from ABC News:

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…

[continues at ABC News]


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13 Comments on "Police Use Software To Predict Criminals – Before They Commit Crimes"

  1. I've been tagged as a potential rapist because I'm a man.

    And I've been tagged as a crypto-racist because I'm white.

    And the above practices are considered widely acceptable to many Americans.

    So what's the difference between calling me a rapist bigot and using software to determine probabilities of crime committing? Why is one prospect acceptable, while another is a violation of civil rights?

    • Interesting comparison. So if you believe there's no moral difference between the two, you're saying police shouldn't use the software to tag potential murderers?

    • Word Eater | Aug 25, 2010 at 11:21 am |

      Neither are acceptable and both violate civil rights.

    • Gemmarama | Aug 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm |

      because while individual people have every right to pre-judge you as they wish, the state should not have this kind of power. is that simple enough for you?

    • Ten to one says the crypto-racist tag got stuck on you for one of your pathetic defenses of backwards race policy by a GOP twit who left his robe and pointy hat at home so he'd look believable on TV…not “because you're white.”

      When it comes to imprisonment and the loss of personal liberty, our system should be built around the concept of doing so only when little choice is left and few, if any, doubts remain. Allowing a computer program to influence decisions that have enormous ramifications regarding personal liberty is a cop out. It voids responsibility for mistakes and hands the process over to a device…instead of making people responsible for people. Not a good policy in any case.

  2. emperorreagan | Aug 25, 2010 at 11:26 am |

    I'm not quite sure why they're focused on homicide since it has a very low rate of rearrest. It's a pretty rare crime and extremely rare for someone to commit another homicide after being released.

    Robbery/burglary/theft have the highest rates of recidivism – over 70%.

    As much as I hate to fall on the side of the police/legal system for anything, I don't find this particular program egregious. The inmate rights advocates they mention in the article are full of shit on this one – around 60% of people who spend time in prison are going back to prison when they're released. The majority of people who go to prison are going to recommit some sort of crime. And while you're on probation, you're still serving some sort of sanction for a crime that you committed. It's not harassment and it's not out of line for communities to figure out how best to allocate their probation officers' time.

    This is one the prisoner advocate community should let go. They should be saving their arguments for abusive correctional officers, better mental health care, education programs, etc. that might improve the lives of prisoners & reduce the chances they'll recommit crimes, not arguing that monitoring those most likely to recommit a crime closely is harassment.

  3. E.B. Wolf | Aug 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm |

    I'm more fascinated by the increasing desire of humans to have computers do their thinking for them than by the big brother aspects.
    Hell. Why not completely automate the probation and parole departments and eliminate human officers entirely?
    If nothing else, it would force those over-paid P.O.s to go out and get a real job for a change.

  4. Kallistai | Aug 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm |

    Pre-crime anyone?

  5. Earbudcontender | Aug 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm |

    Whos watching the police?

  6. Minority Report.

  7. Fear of crime and disrespect for basic human rights wins again. Will we obediently line up if a computer program statistically proves that there are too many of us? Or that no one should ever drink alcohol because it kills brain cells? Decisions about our lives…even when we have to make them about each other and not just ourselves, belong with us…they're a responsibility…a burden…something we should take seriously…not dump off on a program so that our hands can be washed of involvement in the process.

  8. Anonymous | Aug 26, 2010 at 3:46 am |

    Great. Just great.

    Between this and the rise of a nationalist anti-Muslim, pro-Israel group in England ( ‘V For Vendetta’s “Norsefire” anyone?) , does it seem that dystopian film fiction is doing it’s damnedest to become reality…

    Today, ‘Minority Report’. Tomorrow, ‘The Handmaids Tale’.

  9. Great. Just great.

    Between this and the rise of a nationalist anti-Muslim, pro-Israel group in England ( 'V For Vendetta's “Norsefire” anyone?) , does it seem that dystopian film fiction is doing it's damnedest to become reality…

    Today, 'Minority Report'. Tomorrow, 'The Handmaids Tale'.

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