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

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Social Science - 264 pages
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From random security checks at airports to the use of risk assessment in sentencing, actuarial methods are being used more than ever to determine whom law enforcement officials target and punish. And with the exception of racial profiling on our highways and streets, most people favor these methods because they believe they’re a more cost-effective way to fight crime.

In Against Prediction, Bernard E. Harcourt challenges this growing reliance on actuarial methods. These prediction tools, he demonstrates, may in fact increase the overall amount of crime in society, depending on the relative responsiveness of the profiled populations to heightened security. They may also aggravate the difficulties that minorities already have obtaining work, education, and a better quality of life—thus perpetuating the pattern of criminal behavior. Ultimately, Harcourt shows how the perceived success of actuarial methods has begun to distort our very conception of just punishment and to obscure alternate visions of social order. In place of the actuarial, he proposes instead a turn to randomization in punishment and policing. The presumption, Harcourt concludes, should be against prediction.

 

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Contents

Prologue
1
1 Actuarial Methods in the Criminal Law
7
Part I The Rise of the Actuarial Paradigm
39
Part II The Critique of Actuarial Methods
109
Part III Toward a More General Theory of Punishing and Policing
193
Acknowledgments
241
Appendix A
245
Appendix B
261
Notes
267
References
311
Index
331
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Page iv - Director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice at the University of Chicago. The instant volume is a revised and expanded version of the Thomas M. Cooley Lectures presented at the University of Michigan Law School in March 1974. 2. "Again
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About the author (2008)

Bernard E. Harcourt is professor of law and director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Illusion of Order: The False Promise of Broken Windows Policing and Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy.

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