Guest post from Shawn Parks, Market Manager, IBM Predictive Analytics Solutions Marketing
Follow Shawn on Twitter @smparks_mktg
As the old adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
If you’ve never heard this expression before, it means that the first time a negative action occurs, the accountability is on the one that did it. When it happens a second, third, or fourth time, the accountability is on the individual (or group) that allows it to keep happening.
For instance, in Tennessee in 2009 Amanda Sue Kelley, 19, was arrested seven times on charges that ranged from drug possession to domestic assault and theft. Her last offense, police say, she wrenched open the door of a parked car, pointed a gun at a woman changing her 13-month-old daughter’s diaper in the back seat, and demanded cash. (Source: The Tennessean)
This is such the case of the existing criminal rehabilitation system. Those being fooled are the taxpayers that are allowing their money to be spent on an inefficient and ineffective system. A bold statement, maybe, but let me explain…
Repeat criminal offenders cost the system more money than one time criminals, and it was reported that more than 40 percent of offenders in the U.S. return to state prison within three years of their release. In the UK, one study of 14 prisons, most of which hold short-term inmates, found reconviction rates of more than 70 percent, and according to another source, these criminals are committing up to 2,000 murders, rapes and other serious offences every year just months after completing a punishment for a previous crime.
The term for this is recidivism – which refers to measuring the rate that criminals violate their parole or are arrested for new crimes. In fact, the U.S. Justice Department estimates that a 10 percent decrease in recidivism can generate a collective savings of $635 million. And more importantly, one less repeat criminal on the street is, at minimum, one less crime committed in our neighborhoods.
What if there was a way to anticipate which individuals were likely to become repeat offenders after they commit their first crime? Or, what if high risk individuals can receive the appropriate attention or be placed in the rehabilitation program that is best suited to change their unlawful path?
Government agencies worldwide that are responsible for public safety are already using Business Analytics software to analyze data on criminals to provide insight into complex relationships and patterns, such as past offense history, home life environment, and gang affiliations among others, to better understand and predict which inmates have a higher likelihood to reoffend.
For example, the U.K. Ministry of Justice needed a way to analyze vast amounts of crime and offender data to understand which proactive measures would be likely to prevent recidivism. The ministry turned to IBM SPSS predictive analytics to analyze millions of prisoner files. The analysis is helping them develop treatment targets for prisoners throughout their sentence to reduce the probability they will commit crimes upon their release.
The Ministry of Justice now has more accurate crime prediction rates with violent crime recidivism prediction improving from 68 to 74 percent, and general offenses recidivism prediction improving from 76 to 80 percent.
Yes, it is a complex situation. Yes, politics comes into play. And no, this is nothing like the “precogs” in the fictional Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report.
However, predictive analytics is proving to be highly effective by helping organizations like the Ministry of Justice take measures to ensure that inmates receive the best services tailored to meet their rehabilitative needs, while being proactive to stop future crime and better protect citizens.
Another old adage says, “One definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Let’s try a smarter solution to achieve better results.
For more information:
· Read the case studies on the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the U.K. Ministry of Justice.
· Watch the video explaining how government agencies are using data to increase public safety.