Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crime Prediction Software Is Here and It's a Very Bad Idea

Original Article

This is the same stuff IBM did to help Germany, using punch cards to track people in the Hitler era.


By Jesus Diaz

There are no naked pre-cogs inside glowing jacuzzis yet, but the Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice will use analysis software to predict crime by young delinquents, putting potential offenders under specific prevention and education programs. Goodbye, human rights!

They will use this software on juvenile delinquents, using a series of variables to determine the potential for these people to commit another crime. Depending on this probability, they will put them under specific re-education programs. Deepak Advani—vice president of predictive analytics at IBM—says the system gives "reliable projections" so governments can take "action in real time" to "prevent criminal activities?"

Really? "Reliable projections"? "Action in real time"? "Preventing criminal activities"? I don't know about how reliable your system is, IBM, but have you ever heard of the 5th, the 6th, and the 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution? What about article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? No? Let's make this easy then: Didn't you watch that scientology nutcase in Minority Report?

Sure. Some will argue that these juvenile delinquents were already convicted for other crimes, so hey, there's no harm. This software will help prevent further crimes. It will make all of us safer? But would it? Where's the guarantee of that? Why does the state have to assume that criminal behavior is a given? And why should the government decide who goes to an specific prevention program or who doesn't based on what a computer says? The fact is that, even if the software was 99.99% accurate, there will be always an innocent person who will be f----d. And that is exactly why we have something called due process and the presumption of innocence. That's why those things are not only in the United States Constitution, but in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights too.

Other people will say that government officials already makes these decisions based on reports and their own judgement. True. It seems that a computer program may be fairer than a human, right? Maybe. But at the end the interpretation of the data is always in the hands of humans (and the program itself is written by humans).

But what really worries me is that this is a first big step towards something larger and darker. Actually, it's the second: IBM says that the Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom—which has an impeccable record on not pre-judging its citizens—already uses this system to prevent criminal activities. Actually, it may be the third big step, because there's already software in place to blacklist people as potential terrorist, although most probably not as sophisticated as this.

IBM clearly wants this to go big. They have spent a whooping $12 billion beefing up its analytics division. Again, here's the full quote from Deepak Advani:

Predictive analytics gives government organizations worldwide a highly-sophisticated and intelligent source to create safer communities by identifying, predicting, responding to and preventing criminal activities. It gives the criminal justice system the ability to draw upon the wealth of data available to detect patterns, make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens.

If that sounds scary to you, that's because it is. First it's the convicted-but-potentially-recidivistic criminals. Then it's the potential terrorists. Then it's everyone of us, in a big database, getting flagged because some combination of factors—travel patterns, credit card activity, relationships, messaging, social activity and everything else—indicate that we may be thinking about doing something against the law. Potentially, a crime prediction system can avoid murder, robbery, or a terrorist act.

It actually sounds like a good idea. For example, there are certain patterns that can identify psychopaths and potential killers or child abusers or wife beaters. It only makes sense to put a future system in place that can prevent identify potential criminals, then put them under surveillance.

The reality is that it's not such a good idea: While everything may seem driven by the desire to achieve better security, one single false positive would make the whole system unfair. And that's not even getting into the potential abuse of such a system. Like the last time IBM got into a vaguely similar business for a good cause, during the 1930s. They shipped a lot of cataloguing machines to certain government in Europe, to put together an advanced census. That was good. Census can improve societies by identifying needs and problems that the government can solve. At the end, however, that didn't end well for more than 11 million people.

And yes, this comparison is an extreme exaggeration. But one thing is clear: No matter how you look at it, cataloguing people—any kind of people—based on statistical predictive software, and then taking pre-empetive actions against them based on the results, is the wrong way to improve our society. Agreeing with this course of action will inevitably take us into a potentially fatal path. [Yahoo!]

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

FL - So are there or are there not offenders still under the Julia Tuttle Causeway?

NOTE: It has been noticed, that the links below, are showing pages which do not have the specified zip code on them, for some reason, so not all the people shown are actually in that zip code.  May be a Google issue or something.  Some you can click on the MAP link and it shows they are indeed under the bridge or on the causeway.

A person who did live under the bridge, gave me the following zip codes:


And I searched the Florida Sex Offender Registry using Google (links below) and apparently there are many still registered as under the bridge, or that is what the registry says anyway. But without photos of them under the bridge, it's not of much use. - 33132 - 33133 - 33136 - 33137 - 33138

Ron Book has said the bridge is clear of all offenders. So, are we to take his word for it? Also, if that is true, then why does the registry still say there are many still under the bridge? So who is right?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

WA - Sex Offender Registration Changes Coming

Click the image to view the PDF document

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

TN - "John Doe" Goes To Court To Seek To Stay Off Sex Offender List

Original Article


A man identified only as "John Doe" has filed suit in Chancery Court seeking to stay off the Sex Offender Registry.

The man, who said he moved to Hamilton County in 1989 and has not picked up any new sex offenses, was notified recently by county detective Jimmy Clift that he had 48 hours to register as a sex offender.

He is suing detective Clift as well as Sheriff Jim Hammond, state Attorney General Robert Cooper and TBI Director Mark Gwyn.

The suit, filed by attorney Jerry Summers, says the man was convicted in January 1983 in two other states "of criminal offenses which may or may not qualify as predicate offenses coming under the provisions" of the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry.

It says he served approximately three years in custody on the charges.

The suit says it is believed he could have had the charges expunged, but failed to do so.

It says requiring him to go on the registry now would amount to double jeopardy and violate the prohibition against Ex Post Facto laws.

Chancellor Frank Brown signed a restraining order blocking imposition of the registry requirement pending a hearing on April 27 at 2:30 p.m.

The suit says the case was brought as a John Doe "in order to protect his individual privacy rights under the Tennessee Constitution. . . and to obtain a judicial ruling prior to any highly prejudicial dissemination of the facts and circumstances of his past conviction 27 years ago in a foreign jurisdiction and effect upon his professional and private life and his family."

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

OH - Sowell Case Controversy Continues to Heat Up

Original Article

The comments are the usual "kill him!" I am willing to bet if Jesus was walking the Earth today, they'd all be lining up for condemn him as well, just like Jesus was condemned in the past for nothing! This man may have done this, but he is innocent until proven guilty!


By Jack Shea

CLEVELAND - Anthony Sowell is accused of murdering eleven women but in recent weeks his case has served as the backdrop for a simmering feud between his attorney, Rufus Sims and Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold.

During a hearing Tuesday the judge told Sims "you know you're the only person in this room who keeps calling me a liar." Sims responded "your honor, I've never called you a liar, never, never."

At the hearing, Sims renewed his request that Judge Saffold remove herself from the sowell case, on the basis of comments sent from her computer to a Cleveland.Com blog that among other things, compared Sims' courtroom style to Amos and Andy.

Sims says if the judge does not recuse herself, he will ask the Ohio Supreme Court to remove her.

He tells Fox 8 "this is about a man's right to receive a fair trial, he is accused of a crime, he is presumed innocent. We all have to be subservient to the process, we have to be."

During the hearing, Judge Timothy McGinty, who was initially assigned to the Sowell case, but removed himself because of his ongoing campaign to stop the release of repeat offenders, admitted to defense attorneys that he released a sexual predator evaluation on Sowell to the media.

The report, completed after Sowell was released from prison in 2005, indicated that Sowell was a low risk for committing sex crimes in the future.

Sowell's attorneys questioned Judge McGinty about a phone call he made to Judge Saffold after the defense argued that the evaluation was a private medical record and should not have been released.

McGinty testified Tuesday that "who else would I call, I came down here to tell everybody, it's a big deal about nothing, it's a public record, it was an exhibit at a hearing. Counsel, you misled the court, you told them it a confidential record and you know better."

Prosecutors believe the three ring circus in the courtroom is part of a defense strategy to move Anthony Sowell's trial out of Cuyahoga County.

Richard Bombik says "just to generate unnecessary, unnecessary media attention which you know enhances their position in the long run for a change of venue, because I'm sure they'll renew it again and again."


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

FL - ACLU Battles Sex Offender Ordinance

Original Article


Miami-Dade Requires Offenders To Live 2,500 Feet From Schools

WEST MIAMI-DADE - Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (Contact) went to court Tuesday morning to fight a Miami-Dade County ordinance that requires registered sex offenders to stay 2,500 feet away from schools.

The shantytown of sex offenders under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge was cleaned up last month, "No Trespassing" signs posted, and most, if not all, the registered sex offenders who lived there were placed in housing arranged by the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust.

Still, legal challenges continue over the Miami-Dade County ordinance requiring that sex offenders live at least 2,500 feet away from schools. The law also sets a 300-foot restriction preventing sex offenders from loitering near places where children gather.

The ACLU argues that the county's law should be preempted by the state's 1,000-foot mandated exclusionary zone. The organization argues that Miami-Dade's more restrictive 2,500-foot requirement basically makes sex offenders homeless because they cannot find legal housing.

The ACLU will ask a panel of judges to reconsider a dismissed case brought by _____ and _____ against Miami-Dade County. _____ and _____ argued that the county law made it almost impossible for them to find a legal place to live, forcing them to reside under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Representatives of Miami-Dade County and the ACLU will each have 10 minutes to present their case to a panel of three judges. It is unlikely that the judges will rule on the case Tuesday.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin