To Profile Or Not to Profile – This Appears to Be the Question

To Profile Or Not to Profile – This Appears to Be the Question

We study criminology almost to the point of exhaustion, and we came up with some pretty interesting statistics; statistics that are indeed so relevant that they almost cannot be denied. Profiling is nothing new, we know an awful lot about the subject, still, when we mention the word many of us cringe. Why?

Well, for instance, the question brought forth in the popular movie Minority Report tells us why, a story that has a future setting where people are arrested prior to their crimes and there is a pre-crime division that goes out to get them, just before the act. This topic both fascinates us and scares us, and the nature of probability and predictability is far to upsetting for most people to wish to discuss.

Not long ago, I met a gentleman with a huge “probation” case load of 125, that’s six clients (convicted criminals) a day if you see each one once per month and thus, it must be tough to really make an impact, especially “high-risk” criminals, gang members and such? He indicated that they focused on the highest risk repeat offenders, which makes sense, of course, that does involve profiling.

Yes, we do profiling; we almost have to in order to get all the police, corrections, and criminal justice done efficiently in our nation. In fact, I was sitting at the Quantico, VA Starbucks and had this conversation once with someone there; he was going for his finals for the FBI criminal corruption division. Profiling helps them catch criminals pure and simple.

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The issue in society becomes; what do authorities say to someone who asks them about “risk levels” and then likens it to “The Minority Report” I mean, how do you side step or straddle the issue, and still maintain the rule of law; as in we are all suppose to be equal under it? Currently, I am reading; “Mind Hunter – Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker; and you’d be amazed at how well they are able to profile and catch criminals.

Currently, this whole issue of pre-crime, rule of law, and preventing future crimes is in the news at a whole new level of discussion, even changing public policy as we speak, and this is a hot topic right now, for instance:

Profiling is necessary and what we train our computers to do, we often deny our policing agencies to do, many believe to our own peril. Yet, we do profile in many places, for instance probationary work in our society, and it seems these departments has no choice but to deal with what they consider “high risk levels” of repeat offenders just to handle the case loads. Unfortunately, as much sense as this makes, it also runs somewhat contrary to some of the academic legal thinking on the topic? See the problem?