Meet DataKind Supporter and Partner - Laura and John Arnold Foundation
February 03, 2015

We are so pleased to welcome the newest member of the DataKind family - the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF). Not only are they providing critical financial support for DataKind’s overall mission and programs, they are also one of our current DataCorps partners using data science to tackle one of the country’s toughest criminal justice challenges: the immense financial and societal costs of offenders who repeatedly cycle in and out of the criminal justice system.

Repeat offenders not only impose significant societal costs, but also suffer personal hardships and have negative impacts on their family and on their communities. However, little is known about them. Without a clear understanding of who these repeat offenders are and what may be driving their recidivism, it is impossible to develop interventions that deal with the root of the issue rather than the symptoms.

Enter the DataCorps team! Led by Data Ambassador Burton DeWilde, our team of data science volunteers hopes to answer key questions such as, “can we identify factors that make these individuals unique?”

The DataCorps team will work with LJAF to mine large criminal justice datasets, using modern machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics to find previously unknown correlations and patterns to understand the characteristics of repeat offenders. The goal is to answer key questions about this group of people and determine whether it is possible to identify those at risk to better address the risk factors and prevent recidivism. 

This will in turn enable those working in the field by offering them appropriate interventions and services, hopefully breaking the cycle of extreme recidivism before it begins.

As our Founder and Executive Director Jake Porway explains, “the challenge of recidivism in the criminal justice system is extremely complex and sensitive. With issues as delicate as these, we depend on strong partners like the Laura and John Arnold Foundation who have deep issue area expertise to provide context and direct our volunteers’ efforts. Thanks to LJAF’s generous sponsorship of DataKind and partnership with us on this project, we hope to use data science to better understand the root causes of this issue so others can develop new solutions to break this vicious cycle. This is a great example of the power of data science for good - illuminating hidden patterns and underlying causes so experts in the field can better address what would otherwise be an opaque and seemingly insurmountable societal issue.”

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