Problemen met (etnisch) profileren

Nieuwe post op CrimEUR – het blog van de afdeling Criminologie, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Lees hier:

Luxe auto of lage status: tegen (etnisch) profileren

De discussie over etnisch profileren is al snel beladen omdat de thema’s etniciteit en racisme in ons land, evenals elders overigens, op zichzelf hete hangijzers zijn. Is het überhaupt een goed idee dat politie, justitie en rechters profileren op bepaalde kenmerken, of dat nu gaat om huidskleur of recidiverisico?

Discriminatory policing

swipe it forward

Last Tuesday, I took part in the second Swipe It Forward protest action, organized by Bob Gangi and others of PROP (Police Reform Organizing Project), together with fellow activists, to protest harmful and discriminatory policing.

In 2015, the NYPD made 29,198 arrest – 92 percent involving people of colour – for ‘theft of services’ or ‘farebeating’. In simple words: people did not pay for a ticket to use the subway but jumped the turnstile instead or asked fellow passengers for a swipe (‘begging’). People also get fined or arrested for ‘obstructing the entrance’ while asking for a swipe.

“Isn’t that against the rules, to jump the turnstile?”, a woman asked me, while I was handing out fliers with information about the protest at the Crown Heights-Utica Avenue station in Brooklyn. Well, yes, in principle everybody should pay for a ride. But should people get arrested for not paying 2.75 dollar, and spend a day in jail and miss work or school? And if people cannot afford to pay for transport, how will they be able to pay the fine (100 dollar or more) and fees?

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Na 10 jaar ineffectief discrimineren, schaf inkomenseis af

big brother by alainbachellier on flickr (cropped)

(For English, read my post on Leiden Law Blog: 10 years of ineffective discriminatory policy)

(Ingekorte versie verscheen vandaag in de Volkskrant)

Deze week stemde de Tweede Kamer voor de uitbreiding van de zogenoemde Rotterdamwet (Wet bijzondere maatregelen grootstedelijke problematiek). Deze landelijke wet, ingevoerd in 2006, biedt gemeenten de mogelijkheid een inkomenseis te stellen aan potentiële huurders. Daardoor kunnen mensen die geen inkomen uit werk hebben zich niet vestigen in aangewezen buurten of straten waar veel problemen rondom leefbaarheid en veiligheid bestaan. De uitbreiding van deze wet biedt gemeenten de mogelijkheid om ook een gedragseis te formuleren en zo ook woningzoekenden die een overlastgevend of crimineel verleden uit buurten te weren.

Bezwaren

Er kleven allerlei principiële en praktische bezwaren aan een gedragseis voor woningzoekenden. Meest problematisch is dat woningzoekenden kunnen worden geweigerd op basis van politiemeldingen waar geen rechter of veroordeling aan te pas is gekomen. Om deze en andere redenen heeft de Raad van State minister Blok dan ook geadviseerd om het wetsvoorstel in te trekken. Maar de minister heeft dat advies genegeerd. De Tweede Kamer (behalve de SP) heeft geen principiële bezwaren tegen screening, zo bleek uit de plenaire vergadering van afgelopen week, en stemde afgelopen dinsdag voor invoering ervan.

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Against socioeconomic marginality as a risk factor – 2

risk (flickr birdmanphotos)

In the previous blog post I discussed several arguments put forward by legal scholar Sonja Starr against including socioeconomic factors such as unemployment, low or lack of education, and homelessness in risk assessment instruments used for informing sentencing decisions.

Here is another argument, put forward by legal scholar Michael Tonry in an article titled ‘Legal and Ethical Issues in the Prediction of Recidivism’:

Tonry reiterates widely supported normative and ethical rules such as ‘don’t treat people differently based on the basis of social class’, that are ‘largely incompatible’ with sorting people into risk categories. Tonry describes how, in the US, in the 1970s federal parole guidelines initially allowed variables such as employment, education, residential status and family characteristics, but that these factors were gradually abandoned because ‘they are heavily correlated with race’. The 1991 parole guidelines do not include education, employment or family characteristics.

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Against socioeconomic marginality as a risk factor

risk bus juliefaith flickr

I have written several times about risk assessment of individual defendants and offenders and the role of socioeconomic factors such as employment, educational level, income, financial situation and housing. Risk assessment is used by criminal justice agencies – in the US, UK, Canada and the Netherlands, as well as other countries – to inform decisions about bail, pre-trial detention, sentencing, probation, parole, treatment, and/or supervision.

For example, a widely used tool called LSI-R and a tool that is used in New York State called COMPAS take into account the following individual factors (mentioned in Starr 2014, see below):

  • Performance at work
  • Housing stability
  • Neighbourhood crime rates
  • Dependence on social assistance
  • High school grades
  • Chances of finding work above minimum wage

Disparities

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