Murder-predicting computers could tell who gets out of prison

The way things usually go is that is a parole board has to deliberate over a convicted person's past crimes and their behavior to determine if they are fit for release from prison. Now, a college professor says that computers could fulfill this role with greater accuracy.

"This system can forecast which inmates will kill again," says University of Pennsylvania professor Richard Berk. "With the help of years of computer data, I can separate the really bad guys being released from the people who probably won't re-offend."

His computer system is actually being used already in probation departments in Philadelphia and Baltimore, though right now it's flagging potential problematic convicts rather than deciding who should stay and who should get released from prison.

The computers make decisions based on models that are built for each criminal, taking in factors such as age, the nature of the crime and other details such as the murder weapon used. The more information the computers have, the better its chances of determining whether someone would kill again as it matches that profile up against what is statistically likely to happen historically.

Pre-Cogs, anyone? The trio of living computers from Minority Report, pictured above, were tasked with knowing when a crime would be committed while it was still a thought in someone's mind.

Via The Morning Call

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