New crime prediction software being rolled out in Washington, D.C., could reduce not only the murder total, but of many other crimes as well, reports Discovery News. Developed by Richard Berk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the software is already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered. In his latest version, being implemented in D.C., Berk goes even further, identifying the individuals most likely to commit crimes other than murder.
If the software proves successful, it could influence sentencing recommendations and bail amounts. “When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is ‘what level of supervision do you provide?'” said Berk. Formerly, parole officers used the person’s criminal record, and their good judgment, to determine that level. “This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations,” he said. Researchers assembled a dataset of more than 60,000 various crimes, including homicides. Using an algorithm they developed, they found a subset of people much more likely to commit homicide on probation or parole. Instead of finding one murderer in 100, Penn researchers could identify eight future murderers out of 100. Berk’s software examines two dozen variables, from criminal record to geographic location. The type of crime, and more importantly, the age at which that crime was committed, were two of the most predictive variables.