Professor Bernard Harcourt joined the Chicago faculty in 2003 and quickly became one of the mainstays of our criminal law faculty. Professor Harcourt is especially interested in empirical approaches to criminal law, spending countless hours gathering data. For example, his recent book Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy is based on hundreds of hours spent interviewing youths about their views on guns. (If you want to hear a podcast of a talk he gave last year on that book, click here.)
On Thursday, November 16, Professor Harcourt gave a talk in the Chicago's Best Ideas series entitled "Against Prediction: Punishing in an Actuarial Age." He has a new book out with a similar title (Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing and Punishing in an Actuarial Age) and presented part of this material to our students. The talk was a very interesting look at law enforcement profiling and whether it works. Professor Harcourt approached this empirically, discussing whether it works on a practical level, injecting a new element in a debate that is traditionally about morals and ethics.
You can listen to the talk here, and view the Power Point slides used in the presentation here. Download harcourt_against_prediction_powerpoint.ppt (The PPT slides will be very helpful in following along, as several charts and graphs are referenced.)