According to Profiling and Criminal Justice in America by Jeff Bumganger criminal justice profiling occurs when criminal justice officials strategically take characteristics such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation as they make important decisions in the course of their job responsibilities. In considering such characteristics, criminal justice officials may select some actions over others, in part because of the profile of the suspect, convicted offender, victim, witness, or another relevant party under consideration. Profiling in America today is very controversial because in the use of profiling to gain further evidence to advance a case many people may believe that the strategy of profiling is extremely biased. Although factual evidence and criminal justice profiling go hand in hand to solve a case they might have conflicting concerns to the people. Disregarding the concerns, criminal justice profiling is an upcoming and efficient strategy used to solve the crime.
In 1994, the National Commission on Crime Control and Prevention created an act in order to better the criminal justice system. Located in South Carolina officers were ordered once stopped a citizen in traffic to record race, age, gender, cause of being stopped, etc. With this in place, law enforcement was able to categorize past crime history with additional factors. A list of mandates was also set in place and two of them included criminal justice profiling criteria. The profiling elements in the National Commission on Crime Control and Prevention were not always favored, but extraordinarily helpful. Pieces of profiling in the criminal justice system have been used for many years, but the wholesome idea might change crime prevention forever.
The most well-known type of profiling is racial. Racial profiling is a law enforcement infringement on a citizen’s liberty based only on their race. This is extremely concerning to the public because it is an illegal practice and easily exaggerated when published by the media. The source of the racial profiling issue comes from stereotyping. In 2011, an experiment was done testing drivers of different races and the cause of their pullover by law enforcement. Although African-Americans had the highest percentage of being pulled over, they also had the lowest percentage of understanding why. Data also tells that when an African-American is pulled over they are more likely to be searched than any other race. From the results of this experiment and many more, laws have been put made in over half the country in order to prevent racial profiling. The police departments have recently hired equal proportions of races as another way for racial profiling to be prevented. The criminal justice system is completely based on judgment, and many might say that the strategy of profiling causes law enforcement to perform racist acts. Law enforcement has a big responsibility to protect their people, many do not have the time to specifically go after one race or another, they are simply trying to do their job.
A more helpful category of profiling is DNA. Body substances such as hair, skin, blood, semen, and others are classified as DNA profiling. Technology is improving so rapidly that according to Criminal Justice by Ken Aud “DNA from a sample as small as a flake of dandruff will yield a positive, unique identification with no need to consider mathematical probabilities”. This meaning that the chances of a criminal successfully getting away with a crime will be slim to none. DNA profiling plays a major role in criminal identification, “cold hits” and clearing convicted criminals. The debate involving when and who DNA should be taken from will be argued until a certain rule is made. Some believe that only convicted criminal need to have their DNA in the database and other think it should be put in directly at birth. Obviously collecting DNA from birth would lower crime rates, but some may be offended by the invasion of privacy. All kinds of profiling have their pros and cons, but DNA profiling is the most beneficial when it comes to preventing crime.
While there are many arguments to be made against profiling, some of the greatest arrests have been caused by using criminal profiling. Most police officers feel it is foolish to ignore the statistical factors that go along with crime rates, race, and gender. 40 percent of weapon-related crimes are from African Americans, and that is double their population percentage in America. On the other hand, 80 percent of crimes are committed by males from any ethnicity. To complement the stats in crime rates, Maryland State Police Officer Johnny Hughes states that “criminal profiling is good, effective and a commonsensical law enforcement tool.” The way that society runs today makes police officers appear to be racists or bias when they are wisely using statistics to solve a case. The public is expecting law enforcement to keep them safe, but then they are shamed for using a statistical tool such as profiling.
In 2013, the trial for the murder of a teenager by the name of Trayvon Martin, the main suspect was George Zimmerman. Both are of the same African-American race. Statistics for same race killings are much higher than different racial killings, on top of the 40 percent of weapon-related crimes are committed by African-Americans. Law enforcement admitted that it was wrong to follow Zimmerman as a suspect base on his race but the facts were too obvious to ignore. By using the strategy of profiling the case was able to be closed and the families were able to receive closure.
On September 11, 2001, America suffered a horrifying tragedy. 3,000 lives were taken that day and the federal government was forced to look at factors in order to pinpoint a suspect. While being at war with Saudi Arabia, it would be considered negligence to ignore that part of the profile. By taking factors such as race, religion, gender, and how strategically the terrorist attack was planned out, the suspect pool was quickly narrowed. In 2003, suspecting someone based on their religion was banned, slowing down the process of arresting the terrorist behind September 11th. With the restrictions of racial profiling, the federal government was forced to patiently wait for the criminal to come to them. Bin Laden was finally caught in 2011, but if limitations were not given he would’ve been caught earlier with many lives saved.
Steve Halbert and Lisa Rose describe profiling as a “mind-reading machine”. They explain profiling as more than a tool for the criminal justice system. It even created the ability to know a person’s intentions within a simple conversation. This could make finding job candidates much easier, but it is most commonly used in law enforcement. The article Making sense of the data: the shortcomings of racial profiling data collection and analysis explains the science behind criminal justice profiling. It’s more than characters such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation as they make important decisions. They also use microexpressions which can show someone’s true emotions to a situation involuntarily. Unfortunately, these expressions last less than a second but if they are caught, it helps solve a crime.
Inside the courtroom is where the complications begin with profiling. Once a suspect is on trial there is already a stigma about them. While criminal profiling is being used as a tool on the streets, it can very well be used inside a courtroom. In order to prevent bias inside a courtroom, the due process law was written. The due process law is fair treatment through the justice system. When profiling is being talked about in relation to a court, it’s often mistaken to be used toward the defendant. In reality, the approach is used to pick a fair jury. Components such as gender, race, religion, social status, etc. are looked at in order to give the defendant a fair trial. There are countless stigmas made about criminal profiling, but with a little bit of research, one could realize it’s a beneficial utility.
Before profiling was used there was already discussion of creating limitations for law enforcement. These laws were police discretion, which is when an officer’s limits on their power leave them with the choice to make decisions in courses of action or inaction. Similar to profiling there are categories of discretion; organizational variables, neighborhood variables situational variables, and individual factors. Throughout history, laws have been created to limit officers’ resources to close cases. It is understandable to give everyone equal treatment, but when catching criminals is negatively affected rules should be looked over again.
Different forms of criminal profiling have developed over time. There are countless advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you look at it. Fortunately, it is an upcoming tool in law enforcement. As long as stereotypes and restrictions can be overlooked, profiling is extremely beneficial. Factual evidence and criminal justice profiling go hand if used properly criminals all over the country can be stopped once and for all.