A disturbing post from vnunet.com is a report that the a branch of the Probation Service is to use new technology that analyses writing styles to predict whether an offender is likely to reoffend.
The software is apparently supplied by a company called SPSS. According to the post, this software relies on demographic, social, lifestyle, emotional and behavioural factors as well as information on the original charges and offence.
Vnunet.com expressed my concerns more eloquently tha I could:
“How good was the programmer who did this, and is there any inbuilt bias in the system? Are we going to see a computer report on what could be a man’s llife inside or outside prison, and will lazy administrators use this without checking the facts themselves?
Finally is the software perfect, with no flaws that could damn someone on false evidence? There’s little doubt that only a fool would guarantee the answers to these questions.”