By Bernard E. Harcourt
From regimen defense tests at airports to using danger evaluation in sentencing, actuarial tools are getting used greater than ever to figure out whom cops objective and punish. And aside from racial profiling on our highways and streets, most folks want those equipment simply because they suspect they’re a less costly technique to struggle crime.In opposed to Prediction, Bernard E. Harcourt demanding situations this starting to be reliance on actuarial equipment. those prediction instruments, he demonstrates, might in reality bring up the final volume of crime in society, counting on the relative responsiveness of the profiled populations to heightened safeguard. they might additionally irritate the problems that minorities have already got acquiring paintings, schooling, and a greater caliber of life—thus perpetuating the trend of felony habit. eventually, Harcourt indicates how the perceived good fortune of actuarial equipment has all started to distort our very notion of simply punishment and to imprecise exchange visions of social order. instead of the actuarial, he proposes as an alternative a flip to randomization in punishment and policing. The presumption, Harcourt concludes, could be opposed to prediction. (20060828)
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Additional resources for Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age
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 force of the argument will also depend on the speciﬁc group trait that is being proﬁled. To many, the use of race or class may be problematic, though other proﬁles, such as marijuana-leaf bumper stickers or tattoos, may be less troubling. While the critiques developed in these pages apply with different force in different contexts, they raise questions and develop methods of analysis that apply to the use of all actuarial measures in the criminal law.
To most people, criminal proﬁling on a nonspurious trait simply increases the detection of crime and renders police searches more successful, which inevitably reduces crime rates. Although racial proﬁling may be suspect because of the sensitive issues surrounding race, other forms of criminal proﬁling—proﬁling the rich for tax audits, for instance—do not raise similar concerns. There, the calculus is self-evident: the detection of crime will increase, the efﬁciency of law enforcement will improve, and, through the traditional mechanisms of deterrence and incapacitation, crime rates will decrease.
So, for instance, in this book I expressly invoke a central moral intuition of the criminal law, namely, the idea that similarly situated offenders should be treated alike regardless of race, gender, or class. I privilege this principle of just punishment at the expense of selective incapacitation and also rehabilitation (both of which naturally derive from predictions of future criminality and dangerousness). I locate this principle within the structure of the cost-beneﬁt equation, and argue that it often, though not always, favors resisting the actuarial.