Bill James pursues serial killers

That’s right, the baseball guy with superb skills of pattern recognition.  The article is interesting throughout.  Here is one James proposal:

James also posits a way to reform prisons, which he dubs “violentocracies.” His proposal: smaller facilities that house no more than 24 inmates and are part of a larger, incentives-based system. At a Level 1 prison, for example, you get a lawyer, a Bible, and around-the-clock supervision; at Level 5, a cat and a coffee machine. At Level 10, you can earn a living and come and go with relative ease. The idea, James says, is not only to reduce the paranoia-fueled violence in large prisons but to encourage prisoners to work their way up the ladder.

The core of the article is more like this:

In reading so many crime stories over the years, James was surprised that so many weak descriptions are taken seriously, while so many good ones go unheeded. In his system, police would rank eyewitness accounts, from a few basic details about the suspect’s height or race (Level 1) to IDing your neighbor as he moves a body out of the garage freezer in broad daylight (Level 6). These scales could later be applied to James’ 100-point conviction system.

For the pointer I thank Brent Depperschmidt.


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