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Computer Calculates Sentences in China:
Reuters has the story here:
A court in China has used a software program to help decide prison sentences in more than 1,500 criminal cases, a Hong Kong newspaper said on Wednesday.

The software, tested for two years in a court in Zibo, a city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong, covered about 100 different crimes, including robbery, rape, murder and state security offenses, the South China Morning Post said, citing the software's developer, Qin Ye.

"The software is aimed at ensuring standardized decisions on prison terms. Our programs set standard terms for any subtle distinctions in different cases of the same crime," Qin was quoted as saying.

A Beijing-based software company had worked with the Zichuan District Court in Zibo since 2003 to develop the program and input mainland criminal law, the paper said.

Judges enter details of a case and the system produces a sentence, the paper said.
Of course, the fact that something is "computerized" doesn't tell us anything; the real question is how the computer is programmed.

  Thanks to Deven Desai for the link.
Anderson (mail) (www):
Just what Congress would like the U.S. courts to have! Maybe we can buy the software from China?
9.13.2006 6:09pm
The Arbusto Spectrum:

Of course, the fact that something is "computerized" doesn't tell us anything; the real question is how the computer is programmed

Funny, I thought someone said the same thing about Diebold.
9.13.2006 6:10pm
Anon Y. Mous:
I was going to say "Sentencing Guidelines", but Anderson already said it better.
9.13.2006 6:13pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
Already done on Futurama, Season One Episode Five, "Fear of a Bot Planet"

Picture: Futurama Robot Judge

Picture: Futurama Robot Judge Crashes

Full Text

Excerpt of scene:

Robot Mayor: Your Honour, I intend to demonstrate beyond 0.5% of a doubt that these humans before us are guilty of the crime of being humans. Come to think of it, I rest my case!

Judge: Thank you Prosecuter, I will now consider the evidence

[He begins to consider. A blue bar moves across his screen.]

Fry: Hey wait a minute! Isn't anyone going to defend us?

Leela: Yeah! I mean he might not have a case but I'm genuinely not human.

Robot Mayor: Quiet human!

[The Judge stops considering. A prompt box shows up on his screen: Sorry A System Error Occured [Restart] The court gasps in shock.]

Robot Clerk: Uh oh! He froze up again!

Robot Mayor: Try control alt delete.

Robot #1: Jiggle the cord.

Robot #2: Turn him off and on.

Robot #3: Clean the gunk out of the mouse.

Fry: Call technical support.

Robot Clerk: OK OK he's back online.

Judge: I find the defendants - guilty!

[The court cheers.]

Fry: No!
9.13.2006 6:15pm
Jeek:
Does the computer also send an e-mail to the defendant telling him or her to report to the disintegration chamber?
9.13.2006 6:20pm
percuriam:
Why does China need a computer software when the two available sentences are: life imprisonment, death by shooting?
9.13.2006 6:26pm
RMCACE (mail):

Why does China need a computer software when the two available sentences are: life imprisonment, death by shooting?


Did we say computer? We meant coin.
9.13.2006 6:31pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
I humbly protest. Futurerama is not a cartoon show which has provided the proper indicia of funniness within the adult cartoon tv watching community. See Southpark, Ep. 86, "Simpsons Already Did It", Original Air Date June 26, 2002. (And frighteningly, I was an editor on law review).
9.13.2006 6:35pm
liberty (mail) (www):
yay! soon no need for lawyers ... :)
9.13.2006 6:48pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Did we say computer? We meant coin.

Referring to the People's Computing Project #008888663, the product of a $500 billion project awarded to the People's Army nine years ago, as a mere "coin," is punishable by life imprisonment or shooting, depending on whether the computer comes up "heads" or "tails."
9.13.2006 7:09pm
lucia (mail) (www):
The other real question is, "which subtle details about the crime get entered into the program?"
9.13.2006 7:20pm
Shake-N-Bake (www):
Probably depends on the felon's VORC (Value Over Replacement Criminal) as calculated by the computer.
9.13.2006 7:35pm
Aukahe:
yay! soon no need for lawyers ... :)
They will be replaced by small shell scripts.
9.13.2006 7:42pm
Houston Lawyer:
I assume the computer has an "organ match" function to help determine whether the sentence is life or death.
9.13.2006 7:42pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Which is better:
giving a huge amount of discretion to a Judge,
or giving limited discretion to a judge to input some parameter values to a program whose code is public knowledge?

I prefer the latter.

(I realize of course, that it is unlikely that the code is public knowledge in this case. I also realize that there can be good code and bad code as well as good judges and bad judges; but we all support due process, even though we realize that there are good processes and bad processes.)
9.13.2006 8:28pm
zooba:
Once Skynet obtains sentience, it'll pass Booker and Blakely and we can use it in the US.
9.13.2006 9:49pm
Steph (mail):
Can you say GIGO? I knew you could!
9.13.2006 10:15pm
bruce (mail):
Minimum-wage earning, high-school dropout "probation officer" calculates sentences in United States.

Equally as shocking.
9.13.2006 10:48pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
Maybe if the Court had had a computer, Ken Lay would not have been able to take a Summer Vacation in Colorado, while waiting for his sentence to be looked up.
9.13.2006 11:19pm
Positive Dennis (mail):
There is a computer type flow chart that is used by emergency room doctors for diagnosis. It works better than human judgement. I can see a similar chart being of use to a judge in sentencing

Positive Dennis
9.14.2006 12:07am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
"Aiieeeee! I got the Blue Screen of Death!"
9.14.2006 12:50am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
"The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."

(source)
9.14.2006 1:57am
The Original TS (mail):
This is completely outrageous! God knows where the Chinese got such an idea.

http://members.aol.com/s3sentsoft/
9.14.2006 3:17am
The Original TS (mail):
This is completely outrageous! God knows where the Chinese got such an idea.
9.14.2006 3:20am
californio (mail):
Comrades! I find this discussion highly suspect. Soon you will start with the "snark" and the "quips". This is humor of a counter-revolutionary sort! I urge you to march with your cadres through the snow barefoot, to the re-education camps. After much marching and singing, you shall dedicate your lives to the Party, Chairman Mao, and the international cadre of fraternal brothers in Universal Communist Socialism!, er, at least the Chinese ones! and/or we'll kill you anyway. So march ONWARD!
9.14.2006 3:49am
Stephen F. (mail) (www):
CLS
PRINT "What has this enemy of the state been accused of?"
INPUT Crime
CLS
IF Crime = "Democracy"
LET Punishment = "Life Imprisonment"
ELSEIF Crime <> "Democracy"
LET Punishment = "Life Imprisonment"
PRINT "The sentence is" Punishment "."
LOOP
9.14.2006 11:56am
Ben4343434:
9.14.2006 12:29pm
Pat conolly (mail):
Anyone recall the classic 1965 short story "Computers Don't Argue", by Gordon R. Dickson? The man simply ordered a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" from a book club. By the end ...., well, I won't spoil it.
9.14.2006 7:49pm
David Smallberg:

Anyone recall the classic 1965 short story "Computers Don't Argue", by Gordon R. Dickson? The man simply ordered a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" from a book club. By the end ...., well, I won't spoil it.


I remember it well, and people can read it here.
9.17.2006 6:04am
Jerry M.:
CrimeTime is software designed for legal practitioners . Calculate incarceration, fines, and collateral consequences in seconds.
http://www.crimetimesw.com/
9.19.2006 12:21am