9 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 19, 2018
In July 2017, the New York Times reported that Three Square Market, a Wisconsin based technology company, was asking its employees to have a microchip injected between their thumb and index finger. More than half of the employees consented to the implant, which would function as a type of swipe card. As one employee put it, “In the next five to 10 years, this is going to be something that isn’t scoffed at so much, or is more normal. So I like to jump on the bandwagon with these kind of things early, just to say that I have it.”
What might the implanting of microchips portend for criminal justice issues? Might we one day implant chips in convicted felons, or arrestees? Or if not all arrestees, perhaps those released on bail? Indeed, at a time when many scholars and legislators are rethinking bail, might the availability of removable chips strengthen the argument against pretrial detention, and against money bail? And what are the implications for sentencing, especially algorithmic risk-based sentencing? Or perhaps a closer fit, what are the implications for releasing defendants who have completed their sentences and are eligible for parole? At a time when the Court has given its blessing to civil commitment for sex offenders, how might the availability of microchips to monitor the coming and going of individuals — like a wireless fence — change the analysis? Finally, and perhaps most central to this essay, what are the possibilities when we couple the availability of microchips with access to Big Data? This short essay, written for the “Big Data and Policing” symposium issue of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, begins a conversation about these and other questions.
Keywords: Microchips, big data, technology, policing, Fourth Amendment, racial profiling, machine learning
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