Should Los Angeles County Predict Which Children Will Become Criminals?

Matt Stroud:

One of the primary goals of Los Angeles County’s child welfare system is keeping kids out of lock-up. But in this pursuit, the county took a surprising step: It used a predictive analytics tool as part of a program to identify which specific kids might end up behind bars.

The process wasn’t incredibly complicated: It involved analyzing data about a child’s family, arrests, drug use, academic success, and abuse history. But the goal was abundantly clear: separating out the good kids from the potentially bad.*