A software to predict criminal behavior

The story narrated by Philip K. Dick in his Minority Report, which inspired a successful movie with Tom Cruise, seems to have come true, although a bit different, in Philadelphia and Baltimore. In fact, if in the movie police was employing some clairvoyants to predict murders and intervene a few instants before they could actually happen, in these US cities, police is using a software which can analyze the odds according to which a set of convicted criminals can give in to the temptation of committing new crimes.

This software is currently used to assess the opportunity for a stricter surveillance on detainees released on parole, to try as much as possible and prevent the risk that such detainees commit another violent crime. In the near future, police in Washington DC is hoping to adopt an updated version of this crime prevention software, developed by a research team at University of Pennsylvania, also to try and prevent lesser crimes.

Should this software prove efficient, it could be used not only to evaluate the level of surveillance necessary for a parolee, but also in court to establish the bail amount. So far, parole officers have been responsible for assessing the parolees’ progress during their parole period, and according to their judgment, along with the detainee’s criminal record, the surveillance level is set.

Thanks to this software, it will be a computer to make this decision, based on an algorithm developed by Professor Berk’s research group, which takes into account several variables ranging from criminal record to place of residence, which can expose him to a higher risk of becoming a killer.

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