July 15, 2013

Slate commends profiling (of males)

From Slate:
Massachusetts’ Simple Solution for Preventing Domestic Homicide 
By Amanda Marcotte | Posted Monday, July 15, 2013
In theory, domestic homicide should be easy to prevent, since men who kill their wives or girlfriends (85 percent of victims are female) generally give us lots of warning by beating, stalking, and even raping their victims, usually for years before they finally kill. ... 
Rachel Louise Snyder, writing for the New Yorker, details one solution that's being implemented in Massachusetts. Domestic violence social workers there developed a high-risk assessment team that, using statistical methods and employing the court system in creative ways, has figured out a way to target the men most likely to kill and take special care to make it that much harder for them to do so. ... 
How do they do it? They take the details of each reported case of abuse, looking at risk factors such as stalking and chronic unemployment, and rate each abuser on a point system for how violent and controlling he is. Men who are rated high are then subject to heightened risk monitoring, and their victims are given extra resources to stay safe. If the abusers start acting up, they can have their child visitations terminated or be made to wear GPS trackers. They may even be put in jail or in a psychiatric hospital for violating probation or restraining orders—courtesy of a preventive detention program that was mostly used to prevent gang or drug violence in the past, a program that gives the government leeway to restrain you even if your behavior otherwise falls short of the threshold to charge you with further crimes. 

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

But wait, what if the man they're profiling happens to be "of color?" Isn't that racism?

jard said...

Cross-culturally, men are more violent than women. Not controversial to point out unless some "men's rights" equalists hear you. Police and social workers using this statistical information to prevent violence - isn't that what cognitive scientists would call acting rationally?

Anonymous said...

What is profiling other than examining a target population (e.g. murderers, or in this case domestic murderers) and researching until you have found common traits among the target population that are statistically less common among the rest of the population? And then having identified which individuals of the rest of the population are close matches to this list of traits, you focus your attention on this subset of the population.

Profiling works. It has to. It works often to the extent that you can find factors that are common among the target and rare amongst the rest of the population. Also, if multiple factors are often present, the combination of several of them will act to narrow down the profiled population.

The same idea is used in multiple fields. The FBI profiles major criminals such as serial killers. Warren Buffet profiles great companies, so that he may buy them at good prices. Insurance companies profile people and businesses to figure out how to exclude unprofitable clients, and in some cases to effectively eliminate risk while still drawing a regular income from the insured. Israeli airports/airlines are often commended in the media for their use of profiling to prevent terrorism.

It works. If George Zimmerman was looking for criminals, black teenager with hoodie and gold capped teeth, wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood... fits the profile perfectly. If Trayvon had been doing what he was doing in NYC he would have been stopped and frisked. And the profile was successful. Trayvon had been caught with the proceeds of burglary in his backpack at school, and had assaulted a bus driver.

Anonymous said...

"isn't that what cognitive scientists would call acting rationally?"

Yes.

No harm pointing out that acting rationally is the exception to the rule though.

Anonymous said...

but without a brain scan, how can we ever be sure?

Matthew said...

"Cross-culturally, men are more violent than women. Not controversial to point out...

Internationally, blacks are more violent and more crime-prone than whites. Not controversial to point out...except that it is.



Eric said...

Domestic violence social workers there developed a high-risk assessment team that, using statistical methods and employing the court system in creative ways...

What this country really needs is more people "employing the court system in creative ways".

Anonymous said...

What if the statistical methods found that black and Hispanic men were even more violent than white men? Would it be OKAY to target them specifically? Doesn't this whole scheme sound like "pre-crime" ala Minority Report?

Anonymous said...

Her 85% figure is likely to be a Wuzzle as well. Can't let a good factoid go to waste, even if it's completely misleading... well, maybe ESPECIALLY if it's misleading.

David said...

>but without a brain scan, how can we ever be sure?<

A stock image photo of a brain scan would be even better.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Why are people still listening to Amanda Marcotte?
Who besides Sarah Lawrence graduates are her audience at this point?

Sean said...

Defense attorney's fallacy"Also at the O. J. Simpson murder trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Simpson had been violent toward his wife, while the defense argued that there was only one woman murdered for every 2500 women who were subjected to spousal abuse, and that any history of Simpson being violent toward his wife was irrelevant to the trial. However, some regard the reasoning behind the defense's calculation as fallacious. According to author Gerd Gigerenzer, the correct probability requires the context—that Simpson's wife had not only been subjected to domestic violence, but subjected to domestic violence and murdered—to be taken into account. Gigerenzer writes "the chances that a batterer actually murdered his partner, given that she has been killed, is about 8 in 9 or approximately 90%".

Harry Baldwin said...

jard said...Cross-culturally, men are more violent than women.

Within their racial group, yes. But black women commit murder at a higher rate than white men.