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Chicago Robber Caught By Facial Recognition Sentenced To 22 Years 143

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-always-watching dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars: "The first man to be arrested in Chicago based on facial recognition analysis was sentenced last week to 22 years in prison for armed robbery. ... In February 2013, Pierre Martin robbed a man at gunpoint while on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train. After taking the man's phone, Martin jumped off the train. However, his image was captured by CTA surveillance cameras and was then compared to the Chicago Police Department's database of 4.5 million criminal booking images. Martin, who already had priors, had a mugshot in the database. He was later positively identified by witnesses. At trial, Martin also admitted to committing a similar robbery also on the Pink Line in January 2013—his face was captured during both robberies."
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Chicago Robber Caught By Facial Recognition Sentenced To 22 Years

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  • Watch_Dogs (Score:4, Funny)

    by Travis Mansbridge (830557) on Monday June 09, 2014 @06:49PM (#47198689)
    Shoulda just hacked the Chicago camera system with his phone.
    • by freeze128 (544774)
      22 years ago, his phone would have been mounted to the wall in his house.
    • That Chicago is not our Chicago why is the loop an inland? and where is the roads so messed up?

    • Or, perhaps, hacked it and fed another picture of a stereotypical criminal into the database. That'll beat both the system and any witnesses.
  • Fingerprints (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan East (318230) on Monday June 09, 2014 @06:50PM (#47198693) Homepage Journal

    This is nothing more than the type of fingerprint matching that's been going on for many decades. It just puts a name to a person after the fact. Now on the other hand, if he was actively recognized via facial recognition as he was out and about in public and then apprehended, well that would be a different story.

    • Re:Fingerprints (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday June 09, 2014 @07:12PM (#47198785)

      I agree, but I think there's another concern here as well: false positives are significantly more dangerous than with other fingerprinting techniques. If DNA samples or fingerprints provide false positives, we have (admittedly error-prone) eyewitnesses as a final layer of defense, and since people who look entirely different can have similar fingerprints or DNA signatures, it's likely that the people look nothing alike. Not so with facial recognition, since a false positive is likely to be close enough to a true positive that it will be incorrectly affirmed by eyewitnesses, even if the authorities don't bias them by telling them that the guy was a match.

      None of which is to say that I think we should stop using it, since it is a valuable tool. I merely think that it needs to be used with an understanding of its faults and taken with the grain of salt it deserves.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        since a false positive is likely to be close enough to a true positive that it will be incorrectly affirmed by eyewitnesses, even if the authorities don't bias them by telling them that the guy was a match.

        That's exactly what I thought when I read in TFA that "he ranked No. 1 among possible matches."

        It's a matter of when, not if, the #1 match is innocent, but was in the same place at the same time as the actual perpetrator.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          It's a matter of when, not if, the #1 match is innocent, but was in the same place at the same time as the actual perpetrator.

          So take away facial recognition and what changes?

          Basic old-school law enforcement:
          step 1: get a description of the perp from witnesses
          step 2: get a list of suspects -- find out who was there
          step 3: show the witnesses the suspects and see if they recognize the guy

          If you were at the scene of the crime, and looked like the perp, odds are decent you are going to get busted. After all, th

          • Facial recognition isn't necessarily even going to make it worse.

            It might put a lot of extremely similar looking people into a line up and that cant be good.

      • by taustin (171655)

        Generally speaking, there is an attempt made (as there should be) for all the guys in a lineup to look similar, which means your argument is again all lineups, despite that being proven the best way to do such things.

        • by odie5533 (989896)
          Do lineups test eyewitnesses with a lineup of no suspects, but all people that look like the suspect? What if none in the lineup are the actual perpetrator (i.e. the police suspect a guy that looked like the perp, but is truly innocent)?

          Hopefully there's other evidence, and video surveillance might show clothing the person was wearing which he or she might still own. Worrying about edge cases isn't necessarily arguing against lineups. Just making sure they're as foolproof as possible.
        • which means your argument is again all lineups

          Not really.

          In a traditional lineup, the police will have identified the suspect using an independent factor (e.g. seen at the time and place, crime fits their M.O., DNA evidence, they were later heard bragging about the crime, etc.), and the eyewitness is demonstrating their reliability by picking out the suspect from among people that look roughly similar. When the eyewitness identifies the suspect in the lineup, the police have now identified the suspect based on two (or more), independent factors that re

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        Why do you think DNA samples or fingerprints are more likely to have false positives than (you admitted) very poor human memory?

        I'm not claiming the tech is always better, but at least with DNA samples, and I am under the impression with fingerprints (please disprove my belief), they at least have reasonable stats at how likely it is to have false positives... as opposed to "a 6 foot tall guy with blond hair".

        • I think his point is that fingerprint and DNA false positives dont lead to a suspect that looks like what a witness saw. Whereas facial regonition false positives almost guarantee that the person will at least look similar to what the witness saw. Thus for facial recognition, the witness-as-a-confirmation is not as compelling. It's almost the same piece of evidence, rather than two corroborating pieces.

          • I think his point is that fingerprint and DNA false positives dont lead to a suspect that looks like what a witness saw. Whereas facial regonition false positives almost guarantee that the person will at least look similar to what the witness saw. Thus for facial recognition, the witness-as-a-confirmation is not as compelling. It's almost the same piece of evidence, rather than two corroborating pieces.

            That's a very good point, and well worth considering, especially given the now known fallibility of eyewitness accounts. (Not that courts want to really consider that, since that would make convicting someone much, much harder.

            On the flip side. This match is one which humans are well equipped to reason about. We know instinctively what "likeness" means and it's easy for (almost) everybody involved to judge the similarity between i.e. a mugshot and a grainy surveillance video. In fact the quality of the evid

        • This post [slashdot.org] by alostpacket accurately sums up what I was getting at. I never claimed that fingerprinting techniques produce more false positives than eyewitness identification (in fact, I believe the opposite to be true). Rather, I was pointing out that DNA/fingerprints are independent of how an eyewitness identifies someone, so we can rely on eyewitness identification as an independent factor by which we can verify those earlier tests and hopefully root out any false positives. Not so with facial recognition

      • by Threni (635302)

        I'd imagine if the only evidence was a photo then it would be thrown out as circumstantial. People look a lot more alike than fingerprints.

  • FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday June 09, 2014 @06:59PM (#47198727)

    Chicago Robber Identified By Facial Recognition Sentenced To 22 Years

    Caught would imply that he was walking down the street and facial recognition directed authorities to him. That did not happen.

    • Chicago Robber Identified By Facial Recognition Sentenced To 22 Years

      Caught would imply that he was walking down the street and facial recognition directed authorities to him. That did not happen.

      Police state would imply they're always watching you, whether they arrest you on the spot or come by later. There's also no real line for the police to cross except better technology and that will come.

      • Re:FTFY (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday June 09, 2014 @07:49PM (#47198987)

        Wow, somebody being arrested for an actual crime that the suspect actually committed is a "police state"? In a public place it is best to assume someone is always recording so don't commit a crime.

        • I am not concerned about this crime but rather how this technology can and will be used. I suppose one could argue this is no different than using fingerprints to catch a crook, except it is vastly more than that. AFIS only contains a small portion of the U.S. population’s fingerprints, mostly those who have already committed a crime. I doubt who decides everyone should be forced to give up their fingerprints and DNA while they’re at it to complete the database would have his job very long to

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            You missed one huge point. His face was matched against an arrest record. Finger prints were taken during the booking and so was his photo. It is exactly like fingerprints in this case.

            Because far too many have already surrendered to the idea that “public” space means the government can watch you,

            There was nothing to surrender. The government could always watch you in a public place.

            An image with a likeness and couple of witnesses who agree it looks like him is far more tangible to a jury

            I guess you don't understand the rules around a photo lineup [innocenceproject.org]. A photo lineup done wrong can get thrown out of court along will all evidence subsequently found.

            When combined with data mining, the government will have the perfect capability to track and essentially know all peoples movements, anywhere, anytime.

            Sorry but "Person of Interest" [wikipedia.org] is not reality and won't be for quite some time.

            • If we could limit photo matches to just arrest records, that would be one thing but although I don't have time to look up a citation, it's also being done against drivers license photos and it's not hard to see it extending out from there. Also, I never said the technology to do real time scans was available today, only that it will be in the near future. We also don't have anywhere near complete camera coverage but you don't even need anywhere near 100% to make life oppressive. And yes, there are evidenti

  • .... Guy Fawkes!

    • by schwit1 (797399)

      Wearing a mask is illegal in many states unless for medical reasons or weather.

      http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/mcs... [anapsid.org]

      • Wearing a mask is illegal in many states unless for medical reasons or weather.

        Your own source seems to disagree with you. According to it, about half of the states blacklist specific, prohibited activities, but otherwise allow masks for anything else, while the other half whitelist a broad set of permitted activities that hit most of the common cases, but otherwise disallow masks.

        Among those that blacklist activities, the lists are pretty much all the same: no wearing masks to conceal your identity while engaging in crime (i.e. it's one more charge they can add on top), no wearing ma

  • by budgenator (254554) on Monday June 09, 2014 @07:07PM (#47198767) Journal

    Every time he looks into a mirror in prison, Pierre D. Martin can blame his face for putting him behind bars.

    No Dude, poor life choises put you behind bars, the best years of your life down the tubes for a smartphone. This is a perfect example of how stupid is a action verb, not a state of being.

    • Actually, more like "poor birth choices" in the united states.
      15% of the top 1% are children of the top 1% 20 years ago.
      30% of the bottom 20% are children of the bottom 20% 20 years ago.

      Interestingly, a portion of the top 1% also flips back and forth between being in the top 1% and a negative income or zero income.

      If you are born poor, educated by substandard schools, lack a stable family- your odds of "making poor life choices" is much higher.

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        If you are born poor, educated by substandard schools, lack a stable family- your odds of "making poor life choices" is much higher.

        Cry me a river. Tons of people grow up poor and don't commit crime. Likewise, tons of rich assholes commit crimes far more heinous than smartphone theft.

        The only difference between the two is the rich guy is more likely to beat the rap, because he can afford better lawyers. That's an indictment of the criminal justice system, not an excuse for the poor choices of either the rich or the poor guy.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          As a criminal defense attorney who has represented many hundreds of defendants (including a large number of indigents), I regret to inform you that this is not actually true.

          The average criminal case usually involves a mountain of evidence left behind a poorly planned and executed crime. The defendant's guilt is painfully obvious in 90 percent of cases and as a defense attorney, all you can do is try to maneuver your client into a less crappy bargaining position so he gets a palatable plea offer.

          Actually "b

  • It's kind of like the T. S.A.: jillions spent to catch one guy every 3 years.

  • So why the heck can't they show his face in a story about facial recognition? Why the picture of a train? That has nothing to do with facial recognition! For all we know he has some incredibly unique face or maybe a tattoo across his forehead.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      So why the heck can't they show his face in a story about facial recognition? Why the picture of a train? That has nothing to do with facial recognition! For all we know he has some incredibly unique face or maybe a tattoo across his forehead.

      There's 2 links in the summary - not to mention plenty of other articles about this exact story - the second one [suntimes.com] includes a photo.

      Why a train? Probably because it was about a robbery that occurred on a train, but why are you asking that here when you could ask the author [arstechnica.com]?

  • Mugshots of everyone so they don't have to wait for priors to be able to use this technology.

    Oh, wait. They're already half-way there with state IDs.

    • by SLot (82781)

      Have a passport? You already in the database. Served in the military or ever been fingerprinted? You already there as well.

      • by Nukenbar (215420)

        Most jobs of any significance require you to give your finger prints up anyway. Not a big deal if they want to put my ID photo in the big computer as well.

  • Just saying.

    All this will do is put stupid people in jail, while high-stealing bank execs walk the streets free.

    • The best way to rob a bank is to own it...

    • by Matheus (586080)

      Blanket statement that just isn't true.. nice try tho. With a high quality gallery (which the mugshot gallery is) you can obtain failure rates significantly less than 1%. The big question here is the quality of the sample taken from the CTA's cameras. Angle and Resolution are the biggest issues with CCTV footage but quantity of cameras and availability of low cost/high-rez equipment are rapidly eliminating both.

      Having spent years deploying these systems I'm sorry but your claim is just plain false. The

  • Wear a balaclava (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Monday June 09, 2014 @07:27PM (#47198867) Homepage
    Maybe he deserved this, sounds like it.

    But it doesn't justify the mass surveillance being put in all over our public spaces. It can't even be justified on the cost, but far worse is the erosion of your freedom to go about your business without being tracked and monitored permanently. It might catch the odd transgressor, but that is not an acceptable enough reason to piss away all our privacy.

    Oh but you have nothing to hide, so what? Well, it was Joseph Goebbels who first made that pithy remark about having nothing to fear, and look where that ended up - many perfectly innocent people had everything to fear.

    The only reasonable response to mass CCTV is for everyone to wear a balaclava. Once the system is rendered useless, they might reconsider spending taxpayer's money on it. And it sends a strong message that we simply don't want to be tracked, even if we are not criminals.
    • by Kittenman (971447)
      Heck, next thing you know people will be wearing masks or some such when doing crimes, so that the cops won't know who did what, even if they have photographs of the entire world population.

      Criminals doing crimes in masks... work with me, people....
    • by odie5533 (989896)
      Enormously expensive state surveillance initiative finally manages to fulfill the specious secondary goals it was sold to us as doing.
    • by swillden (191260)

      The only reasonable response to mass CCTV is for everyone to wear a balaclava.

      That's silly.

      People willing to wear balaclavas to avoid being tracked are clearly willing to take the much less radical step of voting for and donating to the campaigns of politicians who oppose mass CCTV coverage. If you get a sufficiently large segment of the population willing to wear balaclavas that the CCTV system is useless, then you also have enough public opposition to CCTV cameras to remove them via the political process.

      The truth of the matter is that most of the population doesn't care, and a

  • Crime is no longer a career choice. Crime has long been the employment of quite a few members of society but now they will be caught.
    • well under the GOP system better doctor then ER and you get stuff that the ER does not do.

    • by jopsen (885607)

      Crime is no longer a career choice.

      Armed robbery of people on a train haven't been a profitable profession for at least 150 years :)
      And I'm basing that fact that it ever as profitable on movies :)

      Crime has long been the employment of quite a few members of society but now they will be caught.

      s/employment/desperate measure/

      By the way, criminals being caught is not a new thing... close to 1 percent of the prison service eligible US population is behind bars.

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      "Professor, I feel it necessary to point out that criminal behavior is as unacceptable in the 24th century as it was in the nineteenth - and very much harder to get away with."

      (The Geeks know which fictional character I'm quoting)

    • Unless you're a banker or stock broker.
    • by gnupun (752725)

      Any idiot criminal can evade this system. He'll just bring a mask hidden on him, enter a crowded bathroom, put on the mask, steal money and leave.

      This is just PR crap for a big brother system that will track where everyone is at any given time in public.

  • What's the procedure about booking photos (and fingerprints taken at booking) in the US? Is it possible that your image could be on that database even if you were not convicted of a crime but just processed by the police even for something like being drunk one night and they brought you in to sober up?
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      What's the procedure about booking photos (and fingerprints taken at booking) in the US? Is it possible that your image could be on that database even if you were not convicted of a crime...

      You're booked when you're arrested, which is long before your trial. So lots of people have had mugshots taken who later were exonerated.
      I doubt they are going to thrown out perfectly good records once they have them.

      • I knew where in the process when you were booked. I was questioning of the possibility about the rights of using the photos of people who weren't found guilty or even those who were found innocent.
  • He was later positively identified by witnesses.

    Since when do eyewitnesses "positively" identify subjects?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me or does the sentence sound unusually extreme, I mean using a firearm in the robbery should probably add to the sentence in most countries, but 22 years for stealing a phone and perhaps something similar one other time seems disproportionate.

  • I finally got screwed by ebay/paypal this year. Bought some cables to connect up some solar panels and the seller gave a tracking number that said delivered, even though I was home all that day, have video of the package not being delivered, but too bad so sad you are SOL.

    So I lost $130, but just imagine what happens when the software says you did it when you didn't.

  • My problem with this would be if there were a blurry picture which then matched a few dozen people in the area. Then when the mugshots that all somewhat look like the guy are shown to the witnesses of course they are going to say, "Yup that looks like him."

    Basically this system is going to be excellent at finding both the correct people and their doppelgängers. I certainly hope that in this case they were able to find some solid evidence.

    But if they extended their database search a bit further into
  • Facial recognition is known to produce false positives. Identification of suspects by witnesses is well known to be notoriously unreliable and easily influenced by the interrogator. All I can hope is that this method will not be used to convict without corroborating evidence.

    Everything in the world is a double-edged sword. Another example is DNA evidence.

    For over a century, fingerprints have been the gold standard by which suspects were positively identified. Today, the reliability and uniqueness of an
  • I find it a bit appalling that this guy got 22 years for robbery. Had he killed the guy, he would have got only a little bit more time. This sentence is disproportionate and does not serve the public at all. Now the tax payers are forced to support this guy for the next 22 years at a ridiculous cost. When he gets out, they will likely have to support him some more given the lack of training in prison, and opportunities afterward. If this guy had kids, this sentence could potentially alter the children'
    • by NaCh0 (6124)

      Obviously this criminal's previous arrests didn't serve as a wake up call. This sentence quite appropriately protects the public -- specifically the next group of innocents that this guy decides to rob at gunpoint. It also teaches the guy's children that crimes have consequences.

      • If stiff sentences were an effective deterrent then the US would be the safest country in the world. This is what I call governing by one's gut. It seems like it should make sense it would work that way, but the science doesn't support it. It is just a big cost to everyone. 22 years is likely 1/3 of his life.

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