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Software Used To Predict Who Might Kill 361

eldavojohn writes "Richard Berk, a University of Pennsylvania criminologist, has worked with authorities to develop a software tool that predicts who will commit homicide. I could not find any papers published on this topic by Berk, nor any site stating what specific Bayesian / decision tree algorithm / neural net is being implemented." From the article: "The tool works by plugging 30 to 40 variables into a computerized checklist, which in turn produces a score associated with future lethality. 'You can imagine the indicators that might incline someone toward violence: youth; having committed a serious crime at an early age; being a man rather than a woman, and so on. Each, by itself, probably isn't going to make a person pull the trigger. But put them all together and you've got a perfect storm of forces for violence,' Berk said. Asked which, if any, indicators stood out as reliable predicators of homicide, Berk pointed to one in particular: youthful exposure to violence." The software is to enter clinical trials next spring in the Philadelphia probation department. Its intent is to serve as a kind of triage: to let probation caseworkers concentrate most of their effort on the former offenders most likely to be most dangerous.

"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley