Measuring and Assessing Offender Recidivism Rates
This project is an innovative effort to take knowledge from the scientific community and apply it to the criminal justice system in a package that makes full use of the advances in tablet computing. By measuring a range of cognitive traits including regression, empathy, executive function, impulse-control, set shifting, and planning, we work to better understand the characteristics that define the decision-making process of criminals. The goal is not only to create a better, more precise understanding of offender decision-making but also to do so in a replicable, cost-effective way that frees resources for other uses within the criminal system.
Our objective is to measure and then assess the influence of various decision making traits on an offender’s commission of future crimes. If successful, this research advances the understanding of the connections between decision making processes and criminal behavior. Ultimately, we hope this will allow policymakers to base sentencing decisions on direct, proven, open-source assessments of criminal propensity. Our long term goal is to foster scientifically based social policy, with the goal of diminishing rates of incarceration and providing novel, evidence-based options for assessing and managing criminal offenders. To accomplish these goals, this proposal brings together an interdisciplinary team from the fields of law, neuroscience, criminology, and software.
This project offers the twin promises of (1) reducing crime by improving the ability to identify and target high-volume offenders and of (2) eliminating costs by supporting reductions in the sentence length of those offenders unlikely to reoffend. In other words, the project has the potential to prevent crime and save lives or property by improving the ability to identify and target re-offenders. These societally relevant outcomes fit squarely within the mission of the NSF, as the project seeks to reduce aggregate crime and thereby improve the well-being of individuals. Further, as a multi-agency and multi-institute collaboration, the proposed project achieves another stated NSF aim: strengthening partnerships between academia and the criminal justice system. Consequently, this proposal has high anticipated relevance to society, researchers, and the practice of criminal justice.