Computers

AI surveillance study tracks criminals post release to cut recidivism

AI surveillance study tracks c...
Over the next four years, a number of subjects released from prison will be tracked, with an AI system looking to discover patterns that lead to higher rates of recidivism
Over the next four years, a number of subjects released from prison will be tracked, with an AI system looking to discover patterns that lead to higher rates of recidivism
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Over the next four years, a number of subjects released from prison will be tracked, with an AI system looking to discover patterns that lead to higher rates of recidivism
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Over the next four years, a number of subjects released from prison will be tracked, with an AI system looking to discover patterns that lead to higher rates of recidivism

A pair of computer scientists from Purdue University are leading a controversial new four-year study using AI-enabled surveillance to track recently released prison parolees. The project’s goal is to lower rates of recidivism by identifying early interventions to help individuals transitioning from prison to regular society.

The proposed project is led by Marcus Rogers and Umit Karabiyik from Purdue Polytechnic’s Department of Computer and Information Technology. Citing US Department of Justice data indicating more than 80 percent of parolees are likely to be arrested again within nine years of their initial release, the pair say the goal of this research is to better understand what factors lead to a person reoffending.

“The major reason recidivism is so high is the parolees don’t feel like they belong in the community,” says Karabiyik. “They have a hard time, and they immediately go back to their old criminal habits. Their old criminal communities are very welcoming.”

The project, to be conducted in association with local authorities in Tippecanoe, a county in Indiana, will recruit 250 parolees. Half the cohort will receive a bracelet designed to measure health data, such as stress and heart rate, and a smartphone that will collect other data such as photos taken and locations visited. The other half of the cohort will not be actively monitored and serve as a control group.

An AI system will be used to examine all the data gathered with the aim of better understanding what factors can be linked to higher rates of recidivism. The researchers note that the AI system being developed will not operate in real time. Instead, it will evaluate the data in intervals, suggesting this is not about demonstrating a real-time surveillance system.

“The goal of the study is to identify opportunities for early intervention to better assist those individuals to integrate back into general society successfully,” says Karabiyik.

Liz O’Sullivan, technology director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, points out what she sees as a fundamental flaw in the study. People change their behavior when they know they are being tracked, so the surveillance itself could dramatically change the behavior of the subjects being studied.

“There’s little evidence that AI can infer emotional state from biometrics,” O’Sullivan told Venture Beat. “And even more, unless the end goal is to equip all future parolees with universal tracking devices, I’m not convinced that this study will inform much outside of how invasive, complete surveillance impacts a willingness to commit crime.”

University of Washington AI researcher Os Keyes also suggests the underlying premise of the new study seems to ignore decades of work investigating recidivism. Keyes says the social and economic reasons behind recidivism are well understood so it is unclear exactly what new realization would be gathered by this kind of surveillance study.

Clarifying the purpose of the research, Purdue’s Marcus Rogers says it's hoped the project will home in on the optimal coping and life skills that can be taught to subjects while in prison, or during parole, so as to prevent them from reoffending upon release. Rogers also suggests the research aims to aid parole caseworkers better help subjects when released.

“In the end, we want to develop a system that will allow the caseworkers to more quickly identify those individuals that seem to be on a path that would lead to recidivism,” Rogers says.

Source: Purdue University

6 comments
Worzel
Prisoners today.......everyone else tomorrow!?
piperTom
"Help"? Oh, yes, the scientists' effort is to "help individuals transitioning from prison to regular society." Sure it is. AND their work will only be used on felons... at first. But then, why not "help" with misdemeanors so suspended sentences can be used more often? It will WORK! So, let's "help" traffic offenders learn better driving habits. Let's help those scofflaws who don't wear their masks -- often enough. ...and truants! It will WORK! SO, we should 'help' people with sensitive jobs... and what job isn't sensitive? And then... it hasn't hurt the working population -- what makes YOU special? Do everyone, cradle to grave. We can make 1984 seem like a libertarian paradise.
Signguy
This is where Gates use of nano probes injected into the body would be useful; just make them able to shock the system of anyone doing a crime!
Nelson Hyde Chick
They will tracked, yes, given a job they can survive on, no, so they'll be back in prison in no time.
paul314
The recidivism stat would be more useful if it were about what percentage of parolees were convicted of a new crime rather than just arrested. Getting arrested (especially if you've already been brought to police notice) is not a reliable indicator of criminality.
Daishi
I know people who have spent time "in the system" so my views on the system in the US are a bit tainted. Effectively you take people that made a mistake to begin with and now you give them a whole bunch of extra rules about where they can stay, when they can drive, restrict the substances they use even if their crime had nothing to do with substance abuse etc. Then you monitor their movement and regularly drug test them. What happens is people end up back into the system (over and over again) often for doing the kinds of activities that other people not in the system would get away with all day long. Actually knowing people in the system is an enlightening experience about how broken it is. I personally know people that were violated for working in the wrong county, traveling out of state with the correct paperwork and being accused of not having the correct paperwork, or accused of dodging a home visit because they were in the shower. They were violated not for committing crimes but doing the kinds of things I never have to think twice about. I know someone that was violated for possession of marijuana in a state where marijuana is legal because they were on probation and police don't require probable cause to search someone in the system. It turns out if you take people who failed once to stay within the confines of law the fist time and give them a new set of rules that's 4x stricter and monitor their every move for an excuse to violate them what you end up with is a high recidivism rate but that doesn't at all mean these people are going out and robbing liquor stores or committing crimes as severe as the first one that put them in the system. They are often getting arrested for activities that the other 99% of us can generally do without worrying about. Increasing the control/monitoring over these peoples lives may just lead to even higher recidivism rates. Part of the issue this fails to account for is the sense of hopelessness that if everything you do is now illegal and you are probably just going to end up in jail anyway then what difference does it make what you do? Jail is free room and board, free hot meals, and plenty of free time to work out and read every day. If being out of jail is an authoritarian and dystopian nightmare why not go to jail instead of dealing with the stress and jumping through all the loopholes that regular people aren't required to jump though? I know people who went into the system for marijuana and are still in the system for trivial stuff even now that marijuana has become not just legal but considered "essential" in that shops remained open even during COVID. I know many people in the system and they are mostly for substance abuse or sales and once in they often stay there. If someone has a problem with substance abuse I don't think GPS tracking them or paying someone to go through their photos is going to do anything but cost tax payers more money. The US has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world (nobody else is even close) and it's because the system is designed to keep people in. The prison industrial complex doesn't get more money for letting people leave for good. The prison industrial complex is every bit as incentivized to see people leave the system as Apple is to encourage their users to switch to Android instead. Think of it as a business and "criminals" as the customers. To them recidivism is just successful customer retention. Maybe that sounds like nonsense to most people reading it but it does a lot to explain why the incarceration rate in the US is about 7x higher than it should be. The prison system is just another successful US business hyper focused on growth.