When police in Minority Report predicted who would commit crimes and stopped them before they did it, it was considered so futuristic, the film was set in 2054. Now, however, law enforcers in two American states are using crime-prediction software to predict which freed prisoners are most likely to commit murder, and supervising them accordingly.

Instead of relying on parole officers to decide how much supervision inmates will need on the outside by looking at their records, the new system uses a computer algorithm to decide for them. The Minority Report-style software is already being used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict future murderers, and will be extended to Washington D.C. soon.

It has been developed by Professor Richard Berk, a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who believes it will reduce the murder rate and those of other crimes. Prof. Berk says his algorithm could be used to help set bail amounts and also decide sentences in the future. It could also be modified to predict lesser crimes.