14 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2008
Date Written: March 18, 2008
This piece reviews Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age by Bernard E. Harcourt. In this provocative and innovative book, Harcourt argues that prediction has serious flaws and, more importantly, warps society's view of justice by focusing solely on justice that is quantifiable. The book review first outlines Harcourt's three criticisms against prediction and discusses how these criticisms interrelate. These criticisms demonstrate that it is not prediction that Harcourt is against; rather, it is human judgment, and the danger inherent in flawed people making crucial decisions in the criminal justice system. The book review concludes, as does Against Prediction, with a discussion of using randomization in the criminal justice system, and provides an alternative to Harcourt's draconian decision to eliminate prediction.
Keywords: criminal justice, empirical methods, racial profiling, prediction
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