by: Mark Greenwald, chief of research and planning at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
More than 2.4 billion individuals are locked in the nations’ prisons costing U.S. taxpayers roughly $70 billion a year in support of this over-crowed system. Remarkably, many of these adult convicts showed a high-probability of landing in the system many years earlier as repeat juvenile offenders.
With advancements of technology, forward-thinking State Departments of Juvenile Justice can now better identify those likely to re-offend and customize programs and services to lower the rate of recidivism.
At the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, we are taking an innovative approach to better understand and predict juvenile behaviors and properly assign rehabilitation programs for the more than 85,000 youth that enter our State’s juvenile justice system each year.
We are pleased that the overall number of youth entering the DJJ system is decreasing. And, 93 percent of youth remained crime-free six months after receiving prevention services from our Department from 2007-08.
Still, we have work to do to improve the way we use our resources. It is with this determination that we will be using IBM predictive analytics technology to help guide prevention efforts for the high-risk youth before they become chronic, serious or habitual juvenile adult offenders.
Using this technology, we are confident our organization can improve its existing screening and placement process and intervene in juvenile lives earlier to help them become — and stay — law abiding citizens. Essentially, it will predict which youths will have a higher likelihood to reoffend.
Using evidence-based interventions, we can direct youth toward treatment that will address their specific criminogenic needs. This gives us the opportunity to place individuals in specific programs, such as combating substance abuse or addressing mental health issues, creating personalized – versus generic – rehabilitation programs.
We have embarked on this exciting mission with IBM by using predictive analytics software to help us in our efforts to turn around the lives of troubled youth.
These initiatives also support our involvement in Florida’s Children’s Week activities (April 12-16, 2010). The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is holding its Annual Youth Success Day that recognizes the efforts underway to protect the public by reducing juvenile crime and delinquency, and improve the lives of those who enter our system.
It might seem odd to say, but by working with IBM we are hoping that the use of predictive analytics will essentially put us out of business, with first-offending juveniles never returning to the incarceration system.