Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an by Bernard E. Harcourt

By Bernard E. Harcourt

From regimen safety tests at airports to using possibility evaluate in sentencing, actuarial equipment are getting used greater than ever to figure out whom cops objective and punish. And except for racial profiling on our highways and streets, most folks prefer those equipment simply because they suspect they’re a less expensive strategy to struggle crime.In opposed to Prediction, Bernard E. Harcourt demanding situations this transforming into reliance on actuarial equipment. those prediction instruments, he demonstrates, may possibly actually elevate the final quantity of crime in society, counting on the relative responsiveness of the profiled populations to heightened protection. they might additionally irritate the problems that minorities have already got acquiring paintings, schooling, and a greater caliber of life—thus perpetuating the development of felony habit. finally, Harcourt indicates how the perceived luck of actuarial tools has started to distort our very belief of simply punishment and to imprecise trade visions of social order. rather than the actuarial, he proposes as a substitute a flip to randomization in punishment and policing. The presumption, Harcourt concludes, will be opposed to prediction. (20060828)

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Extra info for Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age

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Incapacitation in Policing and Law Enforcement Even assuming that there are incapacitation gains, the question then is, at what price? The benefits—for instance, a marginal increase in the detection of tax evaders or drug couriers—are not achieved without an offsetting cost. An evaluation along these lines, naturally, calls for cost-benefit analysis. And here I would emphasize one particular cost that is generally overlooked—largely because it focuses on the guilty more than on the innocent. ” Under normal conditions, the use of accurate prediction instruments will have a distortive effect on the targeted population, a distortion that ultimately operates as a ratchet.

On the other hand, where offending differentials are large and the nonprofiled group is inelastic to policing—as is true, for instance, with regard to profiling men in cases of stranger rape—the first critique may not apply. Similarly, the second critique involves a cost-benefit weighing, and is stronger where the purported benefits relate to serious crimes—to severe physical and psychological injury or harm. Again, in the case of stranger rape, the benefits of crime reduction, if any, may outweigh the ratchet effect on men since the offense itself involves such serious physical injury.

The baseline presumption in the criminal law and its enforcement should favor randomized policing and punishment. part 1 The Rise of the Actuarial Paradigm I t may be possible to date the birth of the actuarial in American criminal justice to 1933, the year that Ferris F. Laune, PhD, assumed the newly created post of Sociologist and Actuary at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet. Ferris Laune would be the first to officially implement the “Burgess method” of parole prediction and to produce the first prognasio, a report based on group-trait offending rates evaluating an individual prisoner’s probability of violating parole if released.

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