Hey Watson: Local judge first to use IBM’s artificial intelligence on juvenile cases

Montgomery County’s Capizzi teams with IBM to design system for children’s court.


You’ve probably seen IBM’s Watson talking on TV commercials, but Montgomery County is part of pilot project that would put the lightning-fast, artificial intelligence system into the hands of judges across the country.

Judge Anthony Capizzi said juvenile court cases now are more complicated by drugs and dysfunction within households. Getting the most out of technology is one way courts can get ahead of the opioid epidemic and the other crises that disrupt young lives, he said.

“As a judge you get so much information from so many different groups: probation officers, behavioral health providers, police departments, educators,” Capizzi said. “I envision using the Watson system to give me more information in a more concise way to allow me to better treat the children and the families I serve.”

RELATED: Montgomery County picked for juvenile court drug project

The solution beats sifting through anywhere from 30 to 300 pages of paperwork in the five to seven minutes he may have for each of 30-35 juveniles seen during a typical treatment court docket, said Capizzi, with the court since 2004.

Montgomery County was the first to pilot the technology in a U.S. specialty juvenile court, said Eric Fichtel, director of Care Management for Watson Health.

“We signed him up as a design partner and literally had our development and design team sit through his court,” Fichtel said. “He was basically the first client for this particular use.”

Beginning last fall, Capizzi and his Montgomery County colleagues helped IBM develop the digital case file by blending the local court’s experience handling tough children’s cases with the capability of Watson’s cognitive technology. The resulting system displays a dashboard of cloud-based information that can be updated in real-time by any court officer, whether down the hall or in the field, Capizzi said.

The dashboard focuses on the areas Capizzi said are essential: A summary of a child’s situation, the most recent and past few drug screens, their current educational situation and living arrangement. It also shows incentives or sanctions given the child by the court, as well as any behavioral diagnosis, counseling, therapy or treatment. If a youth is employed – which Capizzi requires of anyone 16 and older – that information is displayed.

RELATED: Montgomery County juvenile judge becomes president of national group

“The Watson Care system gives me the ability to truly spend almost all the time on the child and family’s needs,” he said.”I’m not on the bench shuffling through paperwork.”

If required, a court officer can navigate deeper into the system to retrieve all the information within a case, he said.

IBM debuted the system last year, gaining users of a previous version first among healthcare providers. In addition to Montgomery County’s juvenile treatment court, a few other specialty courts — ones focusing on adults, veterans and parolee re-entry — also now use the technology, Fichtel said. Use is priced per person under care by the month, he said.

As a development partner, the local court is currently using the new Watson system at no charge. However, an Ohio Supreme Court grant of $80,000 was used to help integrate its existing computers with the IBM system.

RELATED: Wimbledon, IBM use Watson AI to help fans get more from matches

If adopted statewide, the Watson system would help standardize best practices, which are not currently uniform throughout Ohio’s 88 counties, Capizzi said. And the longer the system is used, the more useful it will become in helping guide decisions, he said.

“Watson accumulates information, and the more information it gets, the more it learns. Then it can give you feedback,” Capizzi said. “The concept is that as we feed into Watson more scenarios, it will be able to give back to me in a year or 18 months suggested solutions to a problem.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

5 things every parent should know about immunization
5 things every parent should know about immunization

Within the first few months of your child's life, your pediatrician will likely start talking to you about immunizations. Even if your house is stocked with hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, it's important to know what options are out there to keep your kid safe from diseases that could have harmful consequences. With all of the talk...
7 unique moments in Dayton’s history of flight  
7 unique moments in Dayton’s history of flight  

National Aviation Day, a celebration of the nation’s aviation history, is observed each August 19. The date coincides with Orville Wright’s birthday and was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Dayton is the birthplace of aviation and the region continues to benefit the advancement of flight. Here are 7 things to know about...
Area colleges classes kick off during divisive time for higher ed
Area colleges classes kick off during divisive time for higher ed

As area college students head back to campus this fall, they’re returning during one of the most divisive and challenging times for higher education with institutions trying prove their worth and withstand growing financial and political pressures. About 61 percent of Americans say higher education — a $7.8 billion industry in the Miami...
Schools dramatically increase focus on mental health
Schools dramatically increase focus on mental health

Reading, writing and math remain important for teachers, but local schools are dramatically increasing how much attention they pay to students’ coping skills, behavior and mental health. Districts are adding counselors and mental health therapists for at-risk students while implementing school-wide behavior and decision-making programs for all...
Student of the Week Springfield High School
Student of the Week Springfield High School

Name: Annmeri Turner School: Springfield High School Grade: 12 Age: 17 Extra-curricular: Young Life, Varsity Soccer, Varsity Softball, Student Council, American Sign Language Club Claim to fame/honors: National Honor Society, Award of Excellence, First Team All-Conference for Soccer Words you live by: “Don’t practice until you get it right...
More Stories