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The Best Laid Plans: An Assessment of the Intended and Unintended Consequences of Technological Innovation in the Criminal Justice System. James M. Byrne, Professor Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Hard Technology CCTV Street Lighting

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The Best Laid Plans: An Assessment of the Intended and Unintended Consequences of Technological Innovation in the Criminal Justice System

James M. Byrne, Professor

Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

University of Massachusetts, Lowell

the new technology of crime prevention
Hard Technology


Street Lighting

Citizen Protection Devices (e.g. mace, tasers)

Metal Detectors

Ignition Interlock Systems (drunk drivers)

Soft Technology

Threat Assessment Instruments

Bullying ID Protocol

Sex Offender Registration

Risk Assessment prior to involuntary civil commitment

Profiling Software to identify suspicious persons

The New Technology of Crime Prevention
the new technology of policing
Hard Technology

Improved police protection (vests, cars)

Improved/new weapons

Less than lethal force

Computers in squad cars

Hands free patrol car control (Project 54)

Offender and citizen ID’s via biometrics/fingerprints

Gunshot location devices

Soft Technology

Crime mapping (hot spots)

Crime analysis (e.g. COMPSTAT)

Criminal history data systems enhancement

Info sharing within CJS and private sector

CCTV police applications

The New Technology of Policing
the new technology of law and courts
Hard Technology

The high tech courtroom (computers, video, cameras, design features of buildings)

Weapon detection devices

Video conferencing

Electronic court documents

Drug testing at pretrial stage

Soft Technology

Case flow management systems

Radio frequency identification technology

Data warehousing

Automation of court records

Problem-oriented courts with unique information system requirements( drug, reentry, gun, domestic violence, and community courts)

The New Technology of Law and Courts
the new technology of institutional corrections
Hard Technology

Contraband detection devices

Duress alarm systems

Language translation devices

Remote monitoring

Perimeter screening

Less than lethal force in prison

Prison design options/ expansion of super-max prisons

Expanded use of segregation units

Soft Technology

Use of simulations as training tools (mock riots)

Facial Recognition software

New inmate classification systems (external/internal)

Within prison crime analysis ( predicting hot spots; high rate offenders; and prison violence)

Info sharing with police, community, victims, and community-based corrections (reentry)

The New Technology of Institutional Corrections
the new technology of community corrections
Hard Technology

GPS, language translators

Breathalyzers, instant drug tests

Polygraph tests

Laptops for line staff

GPS for staff location

Soft Technology

New classification devices for sex, drugs, and MI offenders

New workload software/ and Treatment Technology

Info sharing with community, police, treatment providers

The New Technology of Community Corrections
three critical issues to consider

Three Critical Issues to Consider

Will new technology applications in criminal justice result in the replacement of ‘people’ with ‘things’?

Will technological advancements in the area of offender control minimize the possibilities for individual & community change?

3. What are the long term consequences of privatization of key technology related CJ system functions?

the new technology of crime
The New Technology of Crime
  • The Impact of Technology on Criminality –
  • 3 Distinct Opportunity Structures—first identified by Richard Sparks in 1980—can be applied to internet-facilitated crimes:
    • Crime at work
    • Crime as work
    • Crime after work
the new technology of crime at work some examples
The New Technology of Crime AT Work : Some Examples
  • Embezzlement
  • Money Laundering/Financial Frauds
  • Credit Card Fraud by Employees
  • Corporate Espionage (via bots, email monitoring, pretexting
  • Theft/Sale of Private, Confidential, Personal Data
  • The Spreading of Viruses & Malicious Codes (to gain competitive advantage)
the new technology of crime as work some examples
The New Technology of Crime AS Work: Some Examples
  • Internet Fraud Schemes: Nigerian letter, online auctions, drug/health frauds, lottery frauds, revictimization frauds
  • Telemarketing Fraud Schemes: Investments, promotions, sales
  • Identity Theft
  • Credit Card/Check Fraud
  • Phishing (for Profit)
  • Internet Sex Crimes
  • Sale of Private, Confidential, Personal Data
  • Internet Piracy
  • Theft of Computers, Computer Software, InternetAccess
the new technology of crime after work
The New Technology of Crime AFTER Work
  • Internet Sex Crimes (Sex tourism, child pornography, child predators/solicitation)
  • Internet Hate Crimes
  • Internet Stalking
  • Cyber-Terrorism
  • Spreading Viruses and Malicious Codes
  • Hacking/Illegal Access to Data
technology crime control the private sector in the 21 st century

Technology, Crime Control, & the Private Sector in the 21st Century –

ISSUE: Is the Private Sector Replacing the Public Sector in the development and application of new technologies of crime prevention and control?

the new technology of criminal justice intended vs unintended consequences
Crime Prevention………



Institutional Corrections.

Community Corrections

Intended Unintended

Less crime Less Freedom,

More Privatization

Less crime More Distrust

More efficiency More Disparity

More Control Less Change

More Control Less Change

The New Technology of Criminal Justice : Intended vs. Unintended Consequences
the new technology of crime prevention1
The New Technology of Crime Prevention
  • What is Crime Prevention?
  • Is it possible to predict and/or prevent crime?
  • Issue: What should be emphasized: Reduction of ‘Risk Factors’ vs. Growth in ‘Protective Factors’
hard technology of crime prevention
‘Hard’ Technology of Crime Prevention
  • Key Focus : Two technologies with known effects : CCTV and Improved Street Lighting
  • Key Issue: Can UK-based successes be translated to the US, where current evaluation research does NOT support the expansion of CCTV and/ or Street Lighting?
crime prevention soft technology
Crime Prevention & ‘Soft’ Technology
  • Key Focus:

1. Risk Assessment often focuses on risky people violent offenders, sex offenders and mentally ill offenders)

2. Threat Assessment focuses on risky places (school violence & likely targets for domestic terrorism)

• Key Issue: Can we accurately make predictions about either risky people or risky places? What is the appropriate balance between considerations of ‘risk’ and ‘stakes’?

the new technology of policing hard technology applications
The New Technology of Policing : ‘Hard” Technology Applications
  • Key Focus:

1.Non-Lethal Weaponry

2. Non-Electric Immobilizing Devices

3. Technology to Reduce the Number of Vehicular Pursuits

4. Technology to Improve Officer Safety

5. Gunshot location technology

  • Key Issues:
  • 1. ‘Militarization’ of Police may have unintended consequences for the public and for traditional police functions
  • 2. Evidence-Based review of the effectiveness of hard technology applications has not been completed
soft technology and policing
‘Soft’ Technology and Policing –
  • Key Focus:
  • Data Collection & Management
  • Data- Driven Police Strategies

• Key Issues:

  • Will advances in data utilization revolutionize or simply enhance traditional practices?
  • What evidence exists that these kinds of technological innovations have improved police performance?
the courts and hard technology applying technological solutions to legal issues
The Courts and Hard Technology: Applying Technological Solutions to Legal Issues -
  • Key Focus : Implementation of technological innovations in courtroom settings& throughout key decision points in the court process (e.g. pretrial preparation & jury deliberations)
  • Key Issues:

1. Little knowledge of ‘what works’ in hard technology for courts

2. Is slow pace of such innovations warranted, given the potential for disparity in access to new technologies in court?

the courts and soft technology corbett
The Courts and ‘Soft’ Technology - Corbett
  • Key focus: Current Implementations – automated court record systems, on-line access to case information, electronic court documents, & data warehouses
  • Key Issues:
  • Implementation: One-third of all IT projects for courts are cancelled before completion; A fraction of IT projects are completed on time and under budget; Most IT projects cost nearly twice as much as projected.
  • Impact: Will “justice” and “fairness” be increased due to these technological innovations? Will improved access to information change court decision-making in ways that actually restrict individual freedom?
hard technology of institutional corrections
‘Hard’ Technology of Institutional Corrections -
  • Key Focus:
  • Facility Monitoring
  • Inmate/Officer Interactions
  • High Risk Inmate Control

• Key Issue: Inmate numbers increasing and budgets decreasing equates to hard choices: Do we emphasize the new technology to offender control or focus the new technology of offender treatment and change?

soft technology institutional corrections
‘Soft’ Technology & Institutional Corrections
  • Key Focus:
  • New techniques for classification of inmates & subsequent offender location decisions
  • New offender monitoring strategies
  • Problem-Oriented conflict resolution strategies
  • Information sharing within CJ system( e.g. religious conversion/terrorist threat group membership)
  • Risk assessment in reentry initiatives
  • Performance Measurement systems

• Key Issue: How can the various forms of ‘soft’ technology be revised to emphasize the goal of offender change rather than short term offender control?

applications of hard technology to community corrections
Applications of ‘Hard’ Technology to Community Corrections
  • Key Focus:
  • Electronic Monitoring of offenders on active supervision
  • New drug testing technology
  • Technologies for alcohol-involved offenders
  • Technologies for managing sex offenders
  • Automated reporting systems

• Key Issues:

  • The continuing debate between advocates of control and proponents of treatment-oriented community corrections strategies
  • The consequences of privatization of certain community corrections functions( e.g. monitoring, treatment) need to be examined.
community corrections soft technology
Community Corrections & ‘Soft’ Technology
  • Key Focus:
  • New generation of classification instruments in community corrections; New approaches to offender treatment based on Risk Need Responsivity model
  • New case management information technology
  • New approaches to information sharing with the public( e.g sex offender registries), crime mapping, & the assessment of risk level of offenders.
  • Ongoing lifetime monitoring and supervision of targeted offender groups( sex offenders, murderers), location restrictions identified and compliance monitored continuously.

• Key Issue: Advances in ‘soft’ technology have resulted in more control over offenders but have these same advances undermined attempts to change individual behavior?

concluding comments three thoughts
Concluding Comments: Three Thoughts
  • 1.Technological Innovation is a means to an end; advocates of various new technologies appear to be assuming that newer technology results in improved performance. Where is the evidence to support this claim?
  • 2.We need to consider both the intended and the unintended consequences of our ongoing quest for technological solutions for social problems
  • 3.We need to find ways to use technology to reinforce moral performance at both the institutional and individual levels.