As detailed in this new press release, “today, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) released its latest report – Garbage In, Gospel Out: How Data-Driven Policing Technologies Entrench Historic Racism and ‘Tech-wash’ Bias in the Criminal Legal System.” Here is more from the release:
As explained in the report, in recent years, police departments have been turning to and relying on rapidly developing data-driven policing technologies to surveil communities, track individuals and, purportedly, predict crime. These technologies include algorithmic decision-making that departments claim can predict where crime is likely to occur, who will likely commit crime, and who will likely be a victim. These algorithms are thus designed to interrogate massive troves of data gathered in a myriad of ways, using inputs that can range from police-generated crime reports to publicly available social media posts. The outputs are then used to make critical decisions about patrols, or to make life-altering designations of individuals.
The purpose of this Report is to: (1) call attention to the rapid development and deployment of data-driven policing; (2) situate data-driven policing within the racialized historical context of policing and the criminal legal system; (3) make actionable recommendations that respond to the reality, enormity, and impact of data-driven policing; and (4) suggest strategies for defense lawyers in places where data-driven policing technology is employed.
“This Report will contribute profoundly to the national conversation regarding the inhumane, unfair, and destructive impact of racism and bias in policing,” said NACDL President Martín Antonio Sabelli. “As the title of the Report suggests, data-driven policing technologies amplify the effects of systemic racism in policing by collecting data based on racist policing (including, for example, overpolicing of communities of color) and treating that garbage data as gospel for future policing decisions. ‘White-washing’ this biased data does nothing more than give a veneer of respectability and an appearance of neutrality while entrenching problematic practices rooted in racism. The report calls for the abandonment of data-driven policing, wherever possible, and transparency and accountability where such practices have already become entrenched.”
“For more than two years, NACDL’s Task Force on Predictive Policing conducted research and interviews across the nation, leading to this report and the recommendations and suggested strategies set forth in it,” explained NACDL Task Force on Predictive Policing Chair Cynthia W. Roseberry. “This report works to demystify the practice of data-driven policing to ensure that those engaged in the essential work of combatting systemic racism in the criminal legal system can operate with full information. This report is not only an important addition to the body of scholarship in this area, it will also serve as a vital tool for advocates and defenders alike.”
The Report’s major topics include (1) the history of policing and the economics of punishment, (2) the history of surveillance and the rise of big data, (3) the landscape of data-driven policing, (4) critical analysis of data-driven policing, (5) task force recommendations on data-driven policing technologies, (6) an overview of state and local legislation, (7) an overview of police departments that have suspended or terminated contracts with data-driven policing programs, and more.
The full 100+-page report is available at this link.