Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Predicting Homicide among Probationers

The Kansas City Star has an article about a new statistical program developed by criminologist Richard Berk that highlights those probationers who are most likely to commit murder while under state supervision.

"This will help stratify our caseload and target our resources to the most dangerous people," probation department director of research Ellen Kurtz said. "I don't care as much about (targeting) the shoplifter. I care a lot about the murderer, obviously."...

[B]ecause [homicide] is a relatively rare event, has been very hard to predict. Of all probationers in Philadelphia, only about one in 100 will commit homicide. But for obvious reasons it is crucial to find that needle in the haystack, Berk said...

"In reality the risk doesn't decline in a smooth, straight line" but falls precipitously at certain points for certain reasons, he said.

The tool works by plugging 30 to 40 variables into a computerized checklist, which in turn produces a score associated with future lethality. |KC Star|
This strikes me as a worthwhile task that could have an impact on improving the oversight of violent offenders.

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