Parole Boards Using Software to Predict Recidivism!!
Here in New Orleans we have the fabulous New York based Vera Institute of Justice. They came up with the inmate risk assessment ranking system that our city council funds. It’s a controversial program because it takes money out of the bail bond system. I think it’s a good program but needs time to work. I’m not really concerned about the bail bondsmen making a few less bucks.
The Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) system is a statistically based risk and needs assessment specifically designed to assess key risk and needs factors in adult and youth correctional populations and to provide decision-support for justice professionals who must make decisions regarding the placement, supervision, and case-management of individuals in community supervision and correctional institution settings. It achieves this by providing valid measurement and succinct organization of research supported risk/need dimensions. COMPAS scores each individual based on three different types of risk (violence, recidivism, and failure to appear in court) and 19 different criminogenic needs. The software also includes case planning, outcomes measurement, and reports generation modules. The internal Research Division (staffed by five PhDs) and IT Division provide the research and technical support to norm the assessment for the local population and configure the software to local policy and procedure. The time required to administer each battery of tests varies, and can be adapted to the needs of the jurisdiction. A peer reviewed validation study of the COMPAS has been accepted by Criminal Justice and Behavior for publication in the June 2009 edition. An additional independent validation of the COMPAS in a California study by Zhang and Farabee (2007) indicated predictive accuracies comparable to other major instruments.
Some of the software conclusions defy conventional correction officers’ logic- some violent offenders are categorized as lower recidivism risks than non violent inmates. For example, inmates convicted of murder serve long sentences and are paroled at older ages, making them less likely to re-offend. Non violent criminals serve shorter sentences and are released at younger ages, making them more likely to commit crimes when freed. I guess this makes sense.
Some states are claiming that this software works for them by lowering the rate of readmission for released prisoners. Texas, Michigan and Ohio are releasing more and more parolees each year and less are going back to jail. This is all a good thing- the public is safe as the parolees are committing less crimes, and the states’ save money by having less folks in the pokey.