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.
Reviews of Against Prediction:
- Eunomía. Revista en Cultura de la Legalidad (March 2012). Link to PDF.
- "Champ pénal/Penal field," Nouvelle revue internationale de criminologie (2009). [visit website]
- American Journal of Sociology, Volume 113(5) (2008).
- The Canadian Review of Sociology (Revue canadienne de sociologie) (2008).
- New Criminal Law Review (June 2008).
- Review of Policy Research (May 2008).
- "Against Judgment," 93 Cornell Law Review (2008).
- Punishment and Society 10: 89-91 (2008).
- "A Reader's Companion to 'Against Prediction': A Reply to Ariela Gross, Yoram Margalioth, and Yoav Sapir on Economic Modeling, Selective Incapacitation, Governmentality, and Race," 1 Law & Social Inquiry 33: 265 - 283 (2008).
- Studi sulla questione criminale (2008).
- "The Cost of Guessing," Rhode Island Policy Reporter, Issue 28 (October 2007).
- "An Attack on Profiling and Police Psychology?", PsycCRITIQUES (August 29, 2007).
- Law and Politics Book Review (July 2007).
- Review in New York Law Journal (May 25, 2007).
- Review in Surveillance and Society 4(3) (2007).
- The Bactra Review: Occasional and ecletic book reviews by Cosma Shalizi (April 30, 2007).
- Corrections Network News (April 9, 2007).
- Harcourt shares his thought on Eight Forty-Eight about why racial profiling may perpetuate patterns of criminal behavior (December 11, 2006).
- "Harcourt argues for more random approach to policing criminals," The University of Chicago Chronicle (December 7, 2006).
- Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series: Bernard Harcourt discusses Against Prediction (October 30, 2006).
- "Search and Defend," The New York Times (August 25, 2006).
- Harcourt Discusses book on "Le Bien Commun," an hour-long radio show on France Culture on French radio (April 1, 2006).
University of Chicago Press
"Racial Profiling Methods May Be Flawed," AmericanRenaissance.com (February 2, 2009) [Download PDF].
"Airport Profiling," Travel + Leisure (January 2007) [Download PDF].