Balancing the risks and opportunities of enhancing Criminal Justice with Artificial Intelligence José Santos April 28, 2023

Balancing the risks and opportunities of enhancing Criminal Justice with Artificial Intelligence

IPS_Innovative Prison Systems has been invited to participate in a major European Commission conference to discuss the use of AI in Criminal Justice systems. The event, entitled ‘Judicial Training: The Right Skills to Embrace the Digitalisation of Justice’ is aimed at developing knowledge for training European Criminal Justice professionals.

Over the past few years, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Justice settings has become a topic of discussion at the highest institutional level in Europe. Policymakers and stakeholders have been grappling with the benefits and challenges associated with AI in the sector, seeking to ensure that its implementation is fair, transparent, and aligned with fundamental rights and values.

To this end, European institutions have been working to develop, disseminate, and implement a range of resolutions, recommendations, and policies to guide Member States. The goal is to ensure that the use of AI in the justice sector is carried out in a responsible and effective manner, and contributes to the delivery of fair and just outcomes for all citizens.

Weighing the use of Artificial Intelligence in prisons and probation

Given this context, it is fitting that Artificial Intelligence was one of the key topics discussed at a high-level European Commission conference focused on the digitalisation of Justice. IPS_Innovative Prison Systems, represented by its CEO, Pedro das Neves, had the opportunity to share insights on the need to balance risks and opportunities that emerge from the use of AI in Criminal Justice systems.

While addressing the European concerns and regulation efforts, Pedro das Neves explored the potential use of AI in jails, prisons, and community supervision. One of the key points highlighted was the advantage of supporting decisions with reliable data, which can be obtained from daily operations and through structured risk and needs assessments of inmates.

Research has shown that information on individual offenders’ needs and risk level can significantly improve the accuracy of predictions about the probability of future criminal behaviour. This data can be used to develop AI-based decision-support systems that can aid in offender management and rehabilitation. Structured information can guide sentencing and parole decisions, facilitate the targeting of resources towards those most likely to re-offend, and enhance the validity of outcome information involving the effectiveness of programs, services, and interventions.

Moreover, Pedro das Neves addressed several key questions that need to be considered when implementing AI decision-support systems in prison and probation contexts. These concerns include assessing the current state of risk and needs assessment practices in Europe and ensuring they are evidence-based, validated, and consistent across different countries and jurisdictions. Finally, Pedro das Neves emphasised the need for proper staff training and outlining strategies for enhancing current risk and needs assessment practices.

The 2023 European Commission conference ‘Judicial training: the right skills to embrace the digitalisation of justice’ is being held online from the 26th to the 28th of April 2023.

Weighing the use of Artificial Intelligence in prisons and probation

Presenting an example of a solution integrating AI in offender management Pedro das Neves shared the progress made in the IPS-led HORUS 360 iOMS project. This project is aimed at researching, designing, and developing a state-of-the-art solution that supports the management of activities and information generated during the detention, imprisonment, or surveillance of persons subject to custodial and non-custodial judicial measures.

Through the use of Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analysis technology HORUS will be able to support decision-making in criminal justice proceedings, and treatment and rehabilitation efforts.

While ensuring full compliance with the European regulatory and international conventions on justice and enforcement, protection of rights, protection standards and data transfer, HORUS’s goal is to enhance transparency and equity of decisions in the criminal justice system and improve resource management in a way that advances societal outcomes.

AI and digital skills: European research, recommendations and training efforts

The workshop also had contributions from Håkan Klarin, CIO of the Swedish Prison Service, and Emilia Gómez, from the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). Håkan Klarin addressed the operational and ethical challenges that emerge from the use of AI in correctional settings in the context of the regulation being developed by the Council of Europe’s Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP).

In her intervention, Emilia Gómez introduced the work of the HUMAINT project at the JRC, which studies the impact of artificial intelligence on human behaviour and advances methodologies for developing trustworthy AI. Presenting the project’s research, she reinforced the role of risk assessment of criminal recidivism in decision-making and commented on the opportunities and risks brought by the use of AI, including the challenges of ensuring effectiveness, fairness and human oversight.

This workshop was part of a three-day online conference hosted by the DG Justice of the European Commission with the goal to open up discussion on how to upskill the “digital capacity” of justice professionals. The event provides an opportunity for those responsible for justice professionals’ training to learn about the impact of digitalisation on the content of training and the training methodology itself.

Know more about this project

The HORUS 360 iOMS project is led by IPS_Innovative Prison Systems in partnership with the BSAFE LAB of UBI University and iTech-ON – Information Technology Research and Development.