Affiliations: [a] Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, División de Administración Pública, Colonia Lomas de Santa Fe, C.P. 01210, Ciudad de México, México | [b] Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, VU Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Corresponding author: Rik Peeters, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), División de Administración Pública, Carretera México-Toluca 3655, Colonia Lomas de Santa Fe, C.P. 01210, Ciudad de México, México. Tel.: +52 55 5727 9800 (ext. 2324); E-mail: email@example.com.
Abstract: The use of algorithms to predict behaviour is becoming the gold standard in criminal justice in various countries. This article critically analyses the algorithm-driven risk assessment tools used in predictive policing and predictive justice. First, we propose to see algorithms as essentially bureaucratic instruments. They are the digital offspring of the classic bureaucratic procedure, creating classification through standardised and impersonal decision-making. Second, we argue that the application of algorithms in criminal justice expands the bureaucratic field to areas previously understood as bulwarks of professional judgement. Third, we analyse the shift in purpose of algorithmic decision-making: instead of determining a citizen’s status of beneficiary or obligate, we now see algorithmic anticipation of behaviour. This shifts the logic of decision-making over investigations, probations, and sentencing from individual judgement to bureaucratic classification based on the algorithms that are designed into risk assessments tools. This article is both a bureaucratic critique of algorithm-driven risk assessment tools in criminal justice and a call to rethink bureaucracy and bureaucratisation beyond the boundaries of public administration.
Keywords: Predictive policing, predictive justice, algorithms, information and communication technology