Time Cops: Can Police Really Predict Crime Before It Happens?

Slate is running an interesting new article about an idea known as “Predictive Policing.”  According to the article, “Predictive policing is based on the idea that some crime is random—but a lot isn’t.”

“For example, home burglaries are relatively predictable. When a house gets robbed, the likelihood of that house or houses near it getting robbed again spikes in the following days. Most people expect the exact opposite, figuring that if lightning strike once, it won’t strike again. ‘This type of lightning does strike more than once,’ says Brantingham. Other crimes, like murder or rape, are harder to predict. They’re more rare, for one thing, and the crime scene isn’t always stationary, like a house. But they do tend to follow the same general pattern. If one gang member shoots another, for example, the likelihood of reprisal goes up.”

Readers might wonder how this is any different from COMPSAT, and the article addresses that question by suggesting that “[t]he big difference is that CompStat is more retrospective than prospective.”  Finally, the article also addresses the possible criticism that much of this seems obvious – not revolutionary:

“But isn’t a lot of this stuff intuitive? If a crime occurs on a particular block of Compton, can’t the LAPD just keep a closer eye on that area in the days after the crime? Sure, says Brantingham, but intuition can take a police officer only so far. In a city as large and complex as Los Angeles, it’s hard to perform predictive policing by gut alone. Statistical models may simply confirm police intuition 85 percent or 90 percent of the time. ‘It’s in the remaining 10 or 15 percent where police intuition may not be quite as accurate,’ says Brantingham. Malinowski calls the data ‘another tool in the toolbox.’”


The American Thinker Gets Right On Crime

The American Thinker has posted a new piece by Christopher Bedford extolling Right On Crime.  Bedford begins by providing a little bit of historical context:

When Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in 1831, he had been sent by the French government to investigate and report on the American prison system.  In the United States, strong Christian values and experimental tendencies had led independent thinkers to break with Old World norms and introduce a host of radical ideas on justice, the most successful among them being the idea that the main function of imprisonment is not punishment, but reform.

Today, with rocketing prison costs, massive numbers of incarcerated citizens, police forces pushed to the brink, and a public that still does not feel safe, it is high time we remember that the fresh and effective ideas of American justice were once the envy of the world.

Next, after explaining some of the alarming problems in the current criminal justice system, Bedford eloquently states his main argument: “the means for fixing [criminal justice] exist directly within our philosophy.”  This, of course, is the central argument of the entire Right On Crime campaign.  Conservatives who are looking for solutions to American criminal justice problems just have to rediscover their philosophical roots — keep a skeptical eye turned to government at all times and demand accountability and efficiency.

Read The American Thinker piece in its entirety — and be sure to check out the many thoughtful comments.


Mitch Daniels Blogs about Criminal Justice Reform at The Corner

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels took some time yesterday to do a little blogging.  He put up a post at The Corner — National Review’s widely-read blog — about his conservative criminal justice reform efforts in Indianapolis.  Take a look:

Ordinarily, a kind mention in the New York Times — there have actually been a few, lately — sends me back for a serious rethink of whatever action or stance gave rise to the compliment. But this week’s support for our proposed criminal justice reforms in Indiana will engender no second thoughts, because the Times has it right — we can be a lot smarter about our incarceration policies.

During my transition to service in December 2004, I was told that we would need to build at least one new prison a year starting immediately. I said, “Uh, the state’s broke. I think we’ll need to find an alternative.” Six years later, we are housing 38 percent more prisoners without having built one additional cell. At a per day cost that is down around 30 percent, by the way. But even we are out of capacity utilization ideas.

Enter our friends from the Council on State Governments and the Pew Foundation. Their analysis shows that we are imprisoning, in our most expensive spaces, more people for relatively minor, non-violent offenses, like low-level property and drug violations, than most other states. Some of our guests are not with the state corrections system long enough for any rehabilitation, substance-abuse counseling, or job training to take place. They’re only with us, as my guys say, “long enough to study under some real criminals.”

If we can get our legislature to go along, we will soon be matching the place of incarceration more closely to the offender’s true danger to society, reducing recidivism and saving a bundle of money on new prisons we don’t have to build and staff. We’ll reinvest a small fraction of the savings into better community corrections and rehab services. And, as the researchers told us, “You’ll still be five times tougher on criminals than Ohio, just not ten times.”

As the Times editorialists were thinking, “Even a benighted Midwestern Republican stumbles on a good idea once in a while.” Which is approximately what I was thinking about them!


Pat Nolan Talks about Right On Crime


Ed Meese and Hugh Hewitt Discussing Right On Crime