Genocidal Police Program Targets "Future Criminals"

September 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


You’re a young Black or Latino man trying to keep your life together after doing time in prison. Your parole officer makes you go to a “call-in” meeting where you sit in a room with 30 other guys like yourself and a bunch of cops. There’s a slideshow with mug shots of people. Then all of a sudden your picture pops up, linking you to a criminal group that has been implicated in a homicide you know nothing about. The cops tell everyone:

We’re watching you! No, you didn’t break any laws. But we checked out who your friends are. We read your Facebook posts. You’ve got an arrest record and you don’t have a job. We ran all that through our computer and it tells us that you ARE going to commit a serious crime in the future—if we don’t stop you first. So we’re telling you right now, we are going to be on you, dogging your every move. And now that you’ve been warned—if we catch you at anything, no matter how petty, you are going to prison for years or decades.

You are now on a police list of “future-criminals”!

Police departments are doing this with the backing of the federal government in dozens of cities in the U.S., including New York, Philadelphia, LA, Chicago, Nashville, and Miami—cities where police function like an occupying army in Black and Latino neighborhoods; where racial profiling by cops means if you are young, Black or Latino, you can be stopped, harassed, arrested, brutalized, even killed for anything—or nothing at all.

Under these programs using “predictive policing,” cops run a set of computer calculations to brand people “future-criminals,” not because of actual criminal activity, but because of “factors” they say are common among “criminals.” (“Police Program Aims to Pinpoint Those Most Likely to Commit Crimes,” New York Times, September 24, 2015)

So what factors are used to say someone “is going to commit crime”? Who your friends are. What you do on Facebook. Your arrest record. If you have problems with drugs or alcohol. If you’re unemployed. If you have friends or family in prison or who have been killed.

Chicago police have developed a “heat list” of 400 people they consider to be more likely to be involved in violent crime. One of the factors considered in compiling this list is whether or not the person had been a victim of an assault or a shooting.

One man in this program in another city was given a 15-year prison sentence for being caught with a bullet in his pocket. Another man got 25 years for having recreational designer drugs known as bath salts, and posting a photograph of himself with a gun on Facebook.

Think about this: How many people in poor, oppressed communities—if you did this computer calculation on them—would come up with the “profile” of a “future criminal”?

This takes racial profiling by police to a whole new, dangerous level. Cops aren’t doing this in white communities, running calculations on, for instance, college students who are unemployed, do crazy stuff on Facebook, use drugs and get drunk a lot. No, this “predictive policing” is part of a genocidal program being carried out by this system against Black and Latino people. Mass incarceration with over 2.2 million behind bars is a major part of this: Black people are 13 percent of the population but 40 percent of those in prison. Latinos are 16 percent of the population but 19 percent of those incarcerated. (Center for American Progress, May 2015) Now, this effort to “predict future criminals,” in order to put them back in prison—is nothing short of officially criminalizing Black and Latino people for the conditions of white supremacy and oppression they’re forced to live in.

Thousands of people are being targeted by this genocidal “predictive policing,” establishing a dangerous precedent that could easily be applied to millions or tens of millions in the future.

Today, when a crime is committed in Black and Brown communities, the cops see a young guy on the street and automatically say, “He’s young, male and Black (or Latino)... He ‘fits the description.’”

Today, Black and Latino people can be stopped, harassed, arrested—driving or walking down the street.

Cops have already carried out raids in places like Harlem and the Bronx in New York City, sweeping up Black people who are then accused of crimes or conspiring to commit crimes that have not yet been committed—based on Facebook posts and phone calls.

Now a police program of concocting “future crimes” and lists of “future criminals” is being used to further and intensify this genocidal program.


1. An important note about being arrested: The vast majority of arrests in the U.S. are not for serious crimes, or even for things that should be considered crimes at all. According to the FBI, there were 13.6 million arrests in the U.S. in 2014, of which fewer than 600,000 were for violent crimes, and about 1.7 million were more serious but nonviolent property crimes. As to the remaining 11.3 million arrests, nearly half are the 5.2 million drug and alcohol related arrests—which for the most part are actually medical, not criminal, issues. Then there are about a million arrests for vagrancy, disorderly conduct, curfew violation, suspicion, etc. Much of the rest are simple assaults (generally meaning no weapon and no significant injury) and other minor infractions like gambling, prostitution, and vandalism. [back]


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