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Predictive Analytics Tool May Be Useful to Identifying At-Risk Youth and Limiting Prison Overpopulation

Florida juveniles have been the center of Florida’s overhaul to its criminal justice system in the last couple of years. More and more programs have been put into place not only to help youth that are in situations that predispose them to commit crimes, but also for the long-term benefit of limiting overcrowding in Florida’s prisons.

Florida’s Predictive Analytics Tools: Current and Future

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has taken further steps into the development of a predictive analytics tool which may help to determine which at-risk youth are more likely to commit crimes, and the ways in which the state may intervene so as to nullify that risk. The predictive analytics tool, which recently had only been used by the DJJ for research and evaluation methods, collects data from around that state, focusing on information provided by juvenile officers, police officers, and a system in place known as the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT), to determine which factors and situations would lead a juvenile to offend or repeat an offense.

Factors Evaluated by the Predictive Models

The factors that are broken down by the system relate to the types of offenses that juveniles are being busted for, whether the offenses are misdemeanors or felonies, the race and demographics of the teen, any history of trauma, violence, or abuse within the family, addiction issues within the family, among others. The DJJ uses the tool to create predictive models, which may help the state decide what preventative methods (such as removal of the teen from an abusive home) may be useful for these at-risk teens. The accuracy of Florida’s system jumped from 61 percent with the PACT to 82 percent as a result of the new technology.

Critiques of the Program

There are several critics of the program who are worried about the negative implications of this predictive tool. Many critics are fearful of the “minority report” aspect where just because the tool states that a teen who meets a certain set of criteria will automatically commit a crime, does not necessarily mean that this will be the case. There is a fear that judges and juvenile officers will ascertain that a teen is more likely than not to recommit a crime based on this predictive tool and be punished for actions that he/she has not yet taken. Critics are also worried about the lack of human involvement in these predictive models. Having a computer that absorbs data and information and determines a level of recidivism for a minor is missing the human element that cannot be quantified but serves a significant function in this type of analysis.

Other Technological Advances Available to At-Risk Juveniles

This is just one of the several methods that are being included to cut down on juvenile prison sentences. Another pilot program that has recently become popular has been the use of apps and Bluetooth monitors that watch over teens between the ages of 16 to 18 who have been accused of certain felonies and are awaiting trial. The Bluetooth device is less bulky than other types of trackers used in the past, and functions along with an app within a smartphone carried by the juvenile. The app has GPS-location functions, and are an alternative for those who would otherwise await trial in adult-populated prisons. This is another tool to lower prison crowding and to limit the number of minors in prison.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with the commission of a crime, it is important speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can help guide you through the criminal justice system and advocate on your behalf. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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