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Can We Really Predict Crime???

On Wednesday, it was announced that the Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice will begin using a software program to predict which juvenile offenders will be likely to reoffend.  The ones chosen will then be placed into special treatment programs meant to prevent them from committing the same crimes.  The comparisons to Minority Report are obvious.  Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo puts together a terrific rant on how horrible of an idea this is:

Sure. Some will argue that these juvenile delinquents were already convicted for other crimes, so hey, there’s no harm. This software will help prevent further crimes. It will make all of us safer? But would it? Where’s the guarantee of that? Why does the state have to assume that criminal behavior is a given? And why should the government decide who goes to an specific prevention program or who doesn’t based on what a computer says? The fact is that, even if the software was 99.99% accurate, there will be always an innocent person who will be fucked. And that is exactly why we have something called due process and the presumption of innocence. That’s why those things are not only in the United States Constitution, but in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights too.

The whole thing is a must read in my opinion.  I do find this kind of thing to be rather scary.


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3 thoughts on “Can We Really Predict Crime???

  1. This is already done to some extent in correctional systems throughut the US. It will be interesting to see Florida’s program and how the implementation goes as there certainly could be serious problems with this approach–I could not get the links to work (may have been just my Internet), I’ll have to drop back and try again later.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Apparently this software system has been used in the UK for some time, but this is the first time it will be used in the U.S. My problem is not with using various formulas to predict behavior, but when action is taken solely based on those predictions.

    P.S. I think Gizmodo was having issues, but the links should work now

  3. alexandra on said:

    It seems like the issue is with the way in which this is being publicized. Social workers and other professionals use risk factors all the time to identify individuals that might be at risk in order to give those individuals and families additional support. If they were to use more positive language or partner with a more benign social service agency for these treatment measures it might not scream inappropriate. It would also be interesting to know more about this “treatment” the youths will receive. I am not sure how qualified or to what quality a treatment led by the juv. justice system will be.

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