5.29.2011

American Awareness -- Danger in California news review


*Image from Yahoo Image Search for California Maps*
News Review -- Scott Hall
     Ever been watching the news or reading an article about something rather important and said, “Well thank goodness someone is reporting on this.”  Or “Why doesn’t someone do something about this?”  This short piece may make you say both.  California, better known for Hollywood, sunshine, exotic beaches, glitz, glamour, a former Governor whose early catch phrase was “I’ll be back”, now has a new notch to add to that list.  “High Risk Offenders Released Under Controversial Law.”
  What kind of high risk? Violent or a propensity to be violent.  High Risk, by definition when used in an adjective form, means 1) of relating to or characterized by risk, and 2) being particularly subject to a potential danger or hazard. The decision to release these wonderful citizens into society, was generated by a computer, as part of a relief effort for overcrowding in prisons and budget stresses along with some input from our United States Supreme Court, in relation to cruel and unusual punishments within California’s correctional system.  Today.msnbc.msn.com released a news report stating California did this, over a year ago.

     Can we all rest easy knowing that there is an auditing system in place?   According to the audit, a whopping 23 percent out of 10,000 that were released in 2010, should not have been. Out of that group, 450 had violent convictions.  The math here shows that 2300 inmates, were released based on what a computer deduced.  What is more alarming, under an original version of that law, those offenders do not report to a parole office or officer, and cannot be sent back to prison, unless they commit a new crime.  The computer program’s error was “fixed”, but the audit still saw roughly 8 percent in further errors.  My earlier background as an Electrical and Electronic Engineer, dictated that in most scenario’s, less than 10 percent error margin is an acceptable range, and in some cases less than 5 percent, not an initial 23 percent. Just to help put this into perspective, Imagine 2.5 out of every 10 cups of water you drink, being less than adequate to drink.
     According to this news article, the Inspector General also failed to set up proper supervision over a sex offender, Phillip Garrindo, who recently pleaded guilty to kidnapping and holding a victim for 18 years, in a back yard compound.  Awareness of course comes into question, same as it did in a more recent series of news articles concerning the number one terrorist being killed abroad. An examination of the law and whether or not that offender could argue against repeat offender status, is warranted.  Governor Brown did sign legislation into law that will revoke the non- reporting to a parole officer and no going back to prison part, but we still have to wonder what happened to those who got out and are now on the streets of America, not just California. 

     Law enforcement officers deal with crime’s every day, ranging from a mugging to murder and now must include computer errors such as the above in their daily duties.  Society does have a set of citizens whom commit crime.  We all love the luxury of push button electronics and computers that are designed to ease our lives and be proficient in their accuracy and problem solving skills.  At what point did someone say, “Let’s make a program that can decide based on information about an offender, when it’s just not cost effective to keep them locked up”, and did they include the insights of professionals in those fields when creating that program. There is a reason we have parole officers, and personnel in place to oversee the specifics of conditional releases.  We as citizens need to ask and challenge all legislators and computer programmers to use a bit more common sense and a little less artificial intelligence when it comes to considering the public’s safety.
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