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posted by janrinok on Thursday December 04 2014, @07:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the its-who-you-know-and-what-you-know dept.

The NYT reports that NY County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s most significant initiative has been to transform, through the use of data, the way district attorneys fight crime. “The question I had when I came in was, Do we sit on our hands waiting for crime to tick up, or can we do something to drive crime lower?” says Vance. “I wanted to develop what I call intelligence-driven prosecution.” When Vance became DA in 2009, it was glaringly evident that assistant D.A.s fielding the 105,000-plus cases a year in Manhattan seldom had enough information to make nuanced decisions about bail, charges, pleas or sentences. They were narrowly focused on the facts of cases in front of them, not on the people committing the crimes. They couldn’t quickly sort minor delinquents from irredeemably bad apples. They didn’t know what havoc defendants might be wreaking in other boroughs.

Vance divided Manhattan’s 22 police precincts into five areas and assigned a senior assistant D.A. and an analyst to map the crime in each area. CSU staff members met with patrol officers, detectives and Police Department field intelligence officers and asked police commanders to submit a list of each precinct’s 25 worst offenders — so-called crime drivers, whose “incapacitation by the criminal-justice system would have a positive impact on the community’s safety.” Seeded with these initial cases, the CSU built a searchable database that now includes more than 9,000 chronic offenders (PDF), virtually all of whom have criminal records. A large percentage are recidivists who have been repeatedly convicted of grand larceny, one of the top index crimes in Manhattan, but the list also includes active gang members, people whom the D.A. considers “uncooperative witnesses,” and a fluctuating number of violent “priority targets,” which currently stands at 81. “These are people we want to know about if they are arrested,” says Kerry Chicon. “We are constantly adding, deleting, editing and updating the intelligence in the Arrest Alert System. If someone gets out of a gang, or goes to prison for a long time, or moves out of the city or the state, or ages out of being a focus for us, or dies, we edit the system accordingly — we do that all the time.”

“It’s the ‘Moneyball’ approach to crime,” says Chauncey Parker. “The tool is data; the benefit, public safety and justice — whom are we going to put in jail? If you have 10 guys dealing drugs, which one do you focus on? The assistant district attorneys know the rap sheets, they have the police statements like before, but now they know if you lift the left sleeve you’ll find a gang tattoo and if you look you’ll see a scar where the defendant was once shot in the ankle. Some of the defendants are often surprised we know so much about them.”

 
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  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Friday December 05 2014, @04:17PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Friday December 05 2014, @04:17PM (#122951)

    Do you not agree that the next step to be taken on these precedents will be to criminalize individuals for prosecution - solely through "Person of Interest" data extrapolation?

    I'm a bit confused whether I understand what you're saying here...are you saying they'd charge people with the crime of being suspicious?

    I want to say "that would never happen" but suspect that it already does, depending on how you look at Stop and Frisk and other racial stuff.

    I sympathize with where you're coming from, but the only way that this is too close to the top of the slippery slope is if the police are unethical bastards (yeah, yeah, I know...).

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  • (Score: 2) by dry on Saturday December 06 2014, @04:47AM

    by dry (223) on Saturday December 06 2014, @04:47AM (#123107) Journal

    The Canadian government is really pushing for arresting and detaining potential terrorists who haven't actually done nothing besides show an interest in Jihad. It's amazing how fast an ultra-right wing government can ruin a country.