By Bernard E. Harcourt
From regimen defense assessments at airports to using hazard evaluation in sentencing, actuarial equipment are getting used greater than ever to figure out whom cops goal and punish. And apart from racial profiling on our highways and streets, most folk 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 transforming into reliance on actuarial equipment. those prediction instruments, he demonstrates, may possibly actually elevate the general volume of crime in society, looking on the relative responsiveness of the profiled populations to heightened protection. they could additionally worsen the problems that minorities have already got acquiring paintings, schooling, and a greater caliber of life—thus perpetuating the trend of legal habit. finally, Harcourt indicates how the perceived good fortune of actuarial tools has all started to distort our very notion of simply punishment and to vague trade visions of social order. rather than the actuarial, he proposes in its place a flip to randomization in punishment and policing. The presumption, Harcourt concludes, might be opposed to prediction. (20060828)
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Additional resources for Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age
What the ratchet effect does is to disproportionately distribute criminal records and criminal justice contacts, which has terrible effects on the proﬁled population. Disproportionate criminal supervision and incarceration reduces work opportunities, breaks down families and communities, and disrupts education. It contributes to the exaggerated general perception of the criminality of the targeted group in the public imagination and among law enforcement ofﬁcers. This, in turn, further undermines the ability of the targeted group to obtain employment or pursue educational opportunities.
The intuition, again, is simple: recidivists are a small minority of the population, and they may be less responsive to punishment; if so, ﬁrst-time and one-time offenders may engage in more criminal behavior overall due to the comparatively reduced cost of crime, and their offending may outpace any gains achieved with regard to the recidivists. Again, this assumes the rational-action model: it assumes that individuals will commit more crimes if the relative cost of crime declines. The result is exactly the same, and the consequences equally troubling: depending on comparative elasticities, the use of actuarial measures, whether at sentencing or in policing, may increase overall crime in society.
If we assume rational action and have reason to believe that different offending rates and elasticities exist between high-risk recidivist inmates and low-risk ﬁrst-offender types, then the use of actuarial methods will affect them just as it does the different populations in the racial proﬁling example: low-risk ﬁrst-offenders 26 chapter one are likely to offend more on a ﬁrst-time basis if their sentences are relatively reduced as compared to average sentences, and their greater overall offending is likely to outweigh the reductions in crime by less elastic, high-risk recidivists, resulting in higher overall crime in society—if indeed these ﬁrst-offenders are more elastic to sentencing.
Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age by Bernard E. Harcourt