Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/15/prison_predictor/

IBM predicts reoffending rates for prisoners

Florida follows UK into Minority Report territory

By John Oates

Posted in Government, 15th April 2010 11:38 GMT

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is paying IBM to provide it with software which will predict which of its charges are most likely to reoffend, following a similar deal in the UK.

Florida deals with 85,000 kids a year. It will use IBM's predictive analytics software alongside its existing screening systems.

The system will look at criminal history, home life, gang contacts and peer associations to better match individuals with punishment and rehabilitation programmes.

IBM's system replaces the previous Excel-based system of basic analysis.

Last month the UK's Ministry of Justice signed a similar deal with IBM to cover 3.4 million prisoners in England and Wales.

This also promises to help better tailor treatment programmes to individual prisoners as well as uncover "trends and patterns hidden within the data".

The Ministry believes the undisclosed investment is worthwhile because it will improve the accuracy of predicting which offenders will commit further crime. Although to be fair to the prison service it looks like it is pretty accurate already.

The release says: "In the case of violent crime, the prediction about re-offending has improved from 68 per cent to 74 per cent whilst the prediction about re-offending in terms of general offences improved from 76 per cent to 80 per cent."

The UK release is here, and the US here. ®