INFORMS Open Forum

NIJ 2021 Recidivism Forecasting Challenge

  • 1.  NIJ 2021 Recidivism Forecasting Challenge

    Posted 05-11-2021 12:45
      |   view attached
    The NIJ 2021 Recidivism Forecasting Challenge will have three categories of contestants: students; individuals/small teams/businesses; and large businesses. Registration and entry are free. NIJ will evaluate all entries on how accurately they forecast the outcome of recidivism. Recidivism is defined in this Challenge as an arrest for a new crime. To receive prize money (a total of $723,000 is available that will be split into 114 total prizes, where up to 15 prizes can be won per contestant/team) winning applicants must provide a comprehensive document detailing the lessons learned about what variables did and did not matter to their final forecasting model and, when applicable, what type of models outperformed other models. Contestants are encouraged to provide additional intellectual property regarding specific techniques, weighting, or other sensitive decisions.

    The NIJ Challenge aims to:

    • Understand a more nuanced view of the characteristics of persons most at risk for recidivating among all persons on supervision classified as "high risk." 
    • Within the criminal justice system, bias can be introduced prior to or at arrest, and compounded along each stage of the criminal justice system process. The inclusion of more detailed, untapped information with common risk assessment protocols may provide greater accuracy and mitigate bias, thus producing fairer outcomes that facilitate successful re-entry into the community and reduce recidivism.
    • Increase knowledge to better support and address the needs of men and women in preventing recidivism.

    The Challenge uses data from the State of Georgia about persons released from prison to parole supervision for the period January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015. Contestants will submit forecasts (percent likelihoods) of whether individuals in the dataset recidivated within one year, two years, or three years after release.

    Challenge Timeline:

    • On April 30, 2021, Initial release of training data.
    • On April 30, 2021, Initial release of test data.
    • May 31, 2021, End of submission period 1.
    • June 1, 2021, Release of updated test data.
    • June 15, 2021, End of submission period 2.
    • June 16, 2021, Release of final test date.
    • June 30, 2021, End of submission period 3.
    • By August 16, 2021, winners will be notified and Challenge website updated with an announcement of the winners.
    • By September 17, 2021, winners are to submit paper outlining the variables that were tested, indicating which were of statistical significance and which were not.
    • Payment will occur as timely as possible after NIJ's acceptance of the submitted paper.

    Prizes are awarded for each of the three submission periods that are aimed to predict recidivism in 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years after the initial release respectfully. Prizes will be awarded for each contestant category: (1) students; (2) individuals/small teams/businesses; and (3) large businesses. Each contestant group can win a prize for accurately predicting recidivism among: (1) all parolees, (2) female parolees (3) male paroles. There is also a separate prize category for the best model that does the best at accounting for Racial Bias in each prediction year.

    See the website,, or attachment for details to apply.

    Veronica White
    Research Assistant, National Institute of Justice
    Industrial and Systems Engineering, PhD Student
    University of Wisconsin - Madison