Can parole software make predictions on future crimes?

It’s not quite Minority Report, but the concept is the same (minus the future-seeing ladies in the water). By analyzing biographies, the software is supposed to help parole boards decide if prisoners will be repeat offenders if released.

At the age of 13, Michael T. Murphy went into the woods near his home in rural New York with the 10-year-old boy who lived next door and stabbed him to death. Last year, having rejected Mr. Murphy’s application 11 times over his more than a quarter-century in prison, the New York State Board of Parole set him free.

This time, the parole board deemed Mr. Murphy, then 41, to be a low risk for committing future crimes, according to parole board documents. The board reached its decision using a computer software program called Compas, one of several designed to predict whether individual convicts will return to prison.

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