As promised last week, Mark Buchanan at The Social Atom has followed up a post on complex adaptive systems with interrelated agents with a link to a book review in Nature (need to register, didn't do it) on Agent-Based Modeling (ABM). Here's the quote he pulled from the review and the reason why it's potentially earth-shaking for first the academic types, then the practitioners in corrections sentencing:
...these two books are part of an important trend in the social sciences. Both argue for the value of agent-based modelling (ABM) in social science. This approach involves "growing societies from the bottom up", as Epstein has put it, rather than devising analytically airtight theorems from first principles that are tractable but transparently wrong in what they assume and imply about human behaviour.
The aim of ABM is to study whether the macroscopic patterns or regularities that we observe in society, such as price equilibria or the appearance of behavioural norms, can be generated from decentralized, local interactions between collections of agents.... Agent-based models may not describe reality, but they can show how interaction and nonlinearity produce social outcomes that could not be predicted simply by inspecting the behavioural rules.
There has to be some crim-oriented young scholar out there with the interest, brains, and time to pull this together into corr sent simulations and conditions that promote and reduce crime, reentry, or sentencing outcomes. There have been several books that have spent a page or three speculating on this, but none have done it yet. Come on, we're waiting for you.