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Illinois ends risk prediction system that assigned hundreds of children a 100 percent chance of death or injury

Millennium Park Opens To The Public Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois has decided to end its use of a risk analysis system that predicted a 100 percent chance of death or injury for hundreds of children while missing some high-profile incidents, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune reports that the program, used by the state’s Department of Children and Family Services, relied on data mining analysis from two Florida-based entities, the nonprofit Eckerd Connects and for-profit partner Mindshare Technology. Using data from department files, the program assigned a risk score of 1 to 100 for children identified in abuse allegations. The score rated the chance that the children would die or be seriously injured in the next two years.

According to the Tribune, officials were left scrambling after more than 4,000 children received a 90 percent or higher risk score, while 369 kids under nine years old were assigned a 100 percent chance. (A spokesperson told the publication that it was working to clarify its language.) Meanwhile, the system assigned lower scores to children who later died in high-profile incidents.

While risk analysis tools have become popular in the government, they’re increasingly controversial. A ProPublica series has documented how, among other problems with similar tools, software used to predict the risk of future criminal activity appeared to be biased against black defendants.