Creators of computer program that estimates 'criminality' win prize

Recognizing the potential impact of computer technology on the criminal justice system, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter awarded the ministry's 2006 prize to a research team that developed a program to aid judges in sentencing fairly. Professors Uri Schild and Ruth Kanai created the program which uses artificial intelligence to present a criminal's entire history and estimates his relative "criminality" while his sentencing is being discussed. The NIS 30,000 prize was awarded by Dichter in a festive ceremony Sunday night in the ministry's Jerusalem office. Schild and Kanai announced that they would turn over the entire sum to the two young researchers - Hanan Mendel and Roni Stern - who collaborated with the professors in the endeavor. Kanai, a member of the Law Faculty at Bar-Ilan University has extensively researched the history of criminal sentencing in Israel. Schild is an associate professor of computer sciences whose research has centered on artificial intelligence and criminal justice. The new program presents criminal records in a clear manner and allows judges to compare data while simultaneously examining details of the current as well as former cases. The two hope that the program will improve on the current method of research, in which judges are presented with a convict's full record. They believe that method may prevent judges from adequately evaluating a convict's criminal past and interfere with the delivery of an appropriate sentence.