Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Innovating Criminal Justice

62 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2017  

Natalie Ram

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

From secret stingray devices that can pinpoint a suspect’s location to source code secrecy surrounding alcohol breath test machines, advanced forensic DNA analysis tools, and recidivism risk statistic software, the use of privately developed criminal justice technologies is growing. So too is a concomitant pattern of trade secret assertion surrounding those technologies. This Article charts the role of private law secrecy in shielding criminal justice activities, demonstrating that such secrecy is pervasive, problematic, and yet ultimately unnecessary for the production of well-designed criminal justice tools.

In so doing, this Article makes three contributions to the existing literature. First, the Article establishes that private secrecy tools — trade secrets foremost among them — now permeate American criminal justice, shielding privately developed criminal justice technologies from vigorous cross-examination and review. Second, the Article argues that private law secrecy surrounding the inner workings or even the existence of these criminal justice technologies imposes significant practical and potentially constitutional costs on individual defendants, the criminal justice system, and the development of well-designed criminal justice technology more broadly. Third, the Article brings the extensive literature on innovation policy to bear on the production of privately developed criminal justice technologies, demonstrating that trade secrecy is not essential to either the existence or operation of those technologies. The Article proposes alternative innovation policies that the government, as both a funder of research and the primary purchaser of criminal justice technologies, is uniquely well positioned to implement.

Keywords: Private law secrecy, privacy, criminal justice, technology, trade secrecy

JEL Classification: K00, K4, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Ram, Natalie, Innovating Criminal Justice (2017). Northwestern University Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012162

Natalie Ram (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
74
Rank
277,348
Abstract Views
236