Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, And Punishing In An Actuarial Age

Paperback | December 15, 2006

byBernard E. Harcourt

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From routine 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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From the Publisher

From routine 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 ...

From the Jacket

From routine security checks at airports to the use of risk assessment in sentencing, actuarial methods are being employed 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 m...

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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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:December 15, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226316149

ISBN - 13:9780226316147

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Customer Reviews of Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, And Punishing In An Actuarial Age

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Powerfull, compelling, and great. Powerful arguments. He defeats the logic of profiling...any profiling including racial..on its own grounds. Anybody who would like to understand the mechanisms by which criminal profiling is based on, read this book. Well done.
Date published: 2007-10-05

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Prologue
Chapter 1. Actuarial Methods in the Criminal Law
 
Part I. The Rise of the Actuarial Paradigm
Chapter 2. Ernest W. Burgess and Parole Prediction
Chapter 3. The Proliferation of Actuarial Methods in Punishing and Policing
 
Part II. The Critique of Actuarial Methods
Chapter 4. The Mathematics of Actuarial Prediction: The Illusion of Efficiency
Chapter 5. The Ratchet Effect: An Overlooked Social Cost
Chapter 6. The Pull of Prediction: Distorting Our Conceptions of Just Punishment
 
Part III. Toward a More General Theory of Punishing and Policing
Chapter 7. A Case Study on Racial Profiling
Chapter 8. Shades of Gray
Chapter 9. The Virtues of Randomization
 
Acknowledgments
Appendix A: Retracing the Parole-Prediction Debate and Literature
Appendix B: Mathematical Proofs Regarding the Economic Model of Racial Profiling
Notes
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

"[Harcourt] has produced a book of such exceptional quality that this reviewer can only describe his offering as not only a welcome breath of fresh air on profiling, but urgent, required reading for all students of criminology, criminal justice, and, of course, profiling in all its forms. . . . This is scholarly analysis of the bases of actuarial criminal profiling at its very best and is an outstanding book. A new benchmark in the field."