Years ago, I worked on an evaluation of a reorganization of the New York City probation department. In addition to interviewing a ton of probation employees, I also talked to academics and went to conferences on the topic. At one conference, a professor who had worked extensively with the city bureaucracy said that statistical models could predict with near certainty who would commit crimes and violate probation. The most significant variables were age (18-24), ethnicity (Black or Latino), and gender (male).
This problematic statistic is now getting political and deep pocket attention from Mayor Bloomberg. He's launching a $130 million project to help young minorities get out of this rut. $30 million of the financing will come from himself. The program will offer opportunities for education and job internships, among other policies.
I look forward to seeing how it all pans out.