posted on Feb, 8 2013 @ 10:24 AM
This seems a little creepy to me; the court system in Philly has begun using a new computer program that is said to be able to predict an offender's
risk of re-offending to determine sentencing.
Philadelphia Courts Begin Using Computer Forecasts to Predict Future Criminal Behavior
Judges in the Philadelphia court system are now taking advantage of powerful new computer models to help determine how much jail time an offender
Computers have been forecasting weather and economic trends for years, but applying algorithms to human behavior is relatively new.
His forecasts, which use an algorithm to predict whether someone will offend again, have been used by city probation and parole officers for about
three years, to decide how much supervision a defendant needs.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court administrative judge Pamela Dembe says the results there convinced her that the computer model could also be a useful
tool in determining sentences.
“It’s not an automatic sentencing project or anything like that,” she explains. “We’re just looking for additional sources of information
in hopes that we get the sentencing right.”
I can see how this might be a useful tool in sentencing so long as judges don't overly rely on its forcasts and use it as only one of many sources of
info in their sentencing decisions. Unfortunately, with the courts being overloaded and human laziness playing its part, I can see the recomendations
of a soulless computer program becoming the sole standard for sentencing decisions.
What could be even more troubling is; what happens when the person to be sentenced discovers they have been the victim of identity theft? A bogus
criminal record in their name or even really poor credit report may swing the judge from a few months probation to years of hard jail time.
If we can't rely on computers to predict tomorrow's weather, why should we count on them to predict human behavior?