PREVENTIVE (IN)JUSTICE: THE PREVENTION OF CRIME AND SOCIAL HARMS

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a major shift from the post-crime paradigm, which defines crime as wrongdoing that has to be dealt with post hoc, to a precrime paradigm, which regards crime as a potential risk to which we need to respond with pre-emptive measures. Under the pre-crime paradigm, reacting to criminal acts that already happened became less relevant than preventing crime by relying on data trails and pattern-of-life analysis that indicate when and where crime may occur in the future. In addition to law enforcement, the logic of “anticipatory reason” became evident also in military operations. As the U.S. and a few other States started relying on the preventive use of military force against vaguely defined threats, preventive war emerged as a new operative logic of power that defined our era.

This research aims, on the one hand, to explore where and why preventive measures represent a risk for human rights and other fundamental values of our societies, while, on the other hand, to evaluate where and why preventive measures might be useful to reduce crime and social harms. For this research, we selected a number of topics that we believe should be critically addressed.

(1) We want to examine theories and practices of prevention in order to gain new knowledge of the preventive measures used for reducing various forms of crime and social harm. For example, we would like to explore the political contexts and ideology driving contemporary crime prevention policies, and examine why those measures succeeded or failed to produce results.

(2) We aim to provide new insights into crime prevention. Firstly, the research aims to discuss the use of genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science in crime prediction in order to address ethical and legal issues arising in the process of predicting future violent behavior. The key objective here is to show how crime predicting technologies undermine some key principles of criminal law and procedure. Secondly, the research will focus on a specific crime – that is, corruption – to explore the reasons for the (in)effectiveness of the preventive “anti-corruption bureaucracy.”

(3) We would like to examine the preventive use of military force. This part of the research will have two key objectives. The first one is to examine how the U.S. redefined preventive use of force in jus ad bellum and compare the redefined concept with similar concepts adopted by other States (e.g., U.K., Israel, Russia, India). The second objective is to examine the reconceptualization of preventive use of force in jus in bello. The aim is to show how the new concept of preventive use of force provided U.S. troops with very broad criteria for determining which individuals represented an imminent threat in combat operations.

(4) We also want to focus on how to prevent specific social harms. Firstly, we want to examine which social harms are created by artificial intelligence used to predict human behavior and formulate new solutions for regulating such technology. The harms that we would like to focus on include, for example, discrimination and manipulation of peoples’ decisions. Secondly, the research will explore social harms caused by consumerism (e.g., pollution, labor exploitation) in order to find answers on how to prevent such harms. The research will examine a number of preventive measures to gain an understanding of how such measures could be used to prevent the harmful consequences of consumerism.

The overall objective of the project is to explore relevant theoretical concepts and practices of prevention in order to provide the academic community, policymakers, and the public at large with recommendations on how to eliminate the risks of preventive measures and how to create and use such measures in a way that will be beneficial for society.

 

The project is financed by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS). Project number: J5-2565 (B).

 

Period: 1. 9. 2020 – 31. 8. 2023 Project group by: Sicris Raziskovalni projekt financira Javna agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost RS.

 

CONTENT

The research is divided into the following work packages.

  1. A critical examination of theories and practices of crime prevention. The first objective is to focus on key modern and postmodern criminological theories in order to gain new knowledge of preventive measures used for reducing various forms of crime and social harm. This section will include an analysis of the reasons why those measures succeeded or failed to produce results. The second objective is to explore the political context and ideology driving contemporary crime prevention policies. The third objective is to determine which criminological theories provide useful insights into how policies for the prevention of currently neglected social harms could be created. In particular, we will explore which prevention policies could be used in Slovenia.

 

  1. 2. Crime prevention.

2.1 Predicting crime: legal and ethical issues. This part of the research aims to critically discuss the use of genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science in crime prediction in order to address the ethical and legal issues that arise from predicting future violent behavior. The key objective is to show how crime predicting technologies undermine some key principles of criminal law and procedure. The second objective is to take a broader look at crime prediction technologies and explore how these technologies introduced a new type of surveillance.

2.2 Prevention of corruption. This part of the research aims to explore the reasons for the (in)effectiveness of the “anti-corruption bureaucracy” in order to find new solutions, or at least optimize existing solutions, for preventive action against corruption. In particular, we will try to find preventive anti-corruption solutions that may be useful to policy-makers. The research will take into consideration the difficulties that arise in measuring how much corruption can be prevented by a certain preventive activity or tool.

 

  1. Preventive use of military force. This work package consists of three objectives. The first objective is to examine the reconceptualization of the preventive use of military force against “imminent threats” from other States. The research aims to show how the Obama administration changed preventive war by abandoning the traditional definition of imminent threat as an immediate and concrete threat. Also, we will compare the new U.S. definition of preventive war with definitions used by other States who adopted a similar preventive war doctrine (e.g., U.K., Israel, Russia, India). The second objective is to examine the reconceptualization of preventive use of force in ground combat operations, in particular in “kill-or-capture” missions carried out by US forces. The aim is to show how the new concept of preventive use of force provided U.S. troops with very broad criteria for determining which individuals represented an “imminent threat.” We will also compare the U.S. definition of preventive use of force in ground combat operations with the definitions used by other States (e.g., EU countries). The third objective is to show how the redefinitions of preventive use of force established a legal framework for a war against vaguely defined potential threats that undermined the protection of civilians.

 

  1. Prevention and social harms.

4.1 Artificial intelligence, social harm, and prevention. The first objective of this part of the research is to examine which social harms are created by artificial intelligence used in predicting human behavior. The second objective is to find new solutions for improving the use of such technology. Scholars who have criticized this new technology have usually argued that new tools must be strictly controlled and restricted in order not to cause harm to individuals and society. However, those scholars typically based their analysis on the moral values accepted in a particular community. Given that moral values are not the same in countries around the world, invasive new technologies are now allowed in some countries, while prohibited in others. In our research, we would like to define the ethical problems of predictive analytics and other new AI-based technologies in a new way.

4.2 Consumerism, social harm, and prevention. The objective of this work package is to explore social harms produced by consumerism in order to find solutions on how to prevent such harms. The research will critically examine examples of preventive measures against crime (e.g., preventive measures against terrorism, irregular migration, and coercive measures taken on health grounds) in order to gain an understanding of how these measures came to be so widely implemented and to what extent they are (un)successful. The objective is to draw lessons for the much-needed prevention of harms stemming from socially harmful activities that are repeatedly neglected. As an example of a normalized harmful practice that would need to be addressed preventively, the phenomenon of consumerism will be more closely examined.

RELEVANCE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE:

We expect the research to provide new insights into some under-research themes in crime prevention. The main original aspects of the research will be as follows.

(1) The analysis of theories and practices of crime prevention will provide new knowledge of the political contexts and ideology driving contemporary crime prevention policies. In addition, the research will provide a critical examination of why those measures succeeded or failed to produce results.

(2) The part of the research focusing on crime prevention will shed new light on the role that genetics, neuroscience and behavioral sciences have in crime prediction, in particular how they undermine key principles of criminal law and procedure. The research on the prevention of corruption will expose the weaknesses of current preventive anti-corruption measures (e.g., in-advance disclosure of data by individuals in corruption-sensitive positions) and provide new ideas on how to improve such preventive measures for reducing corruption.

(3) The research will provide original insights into the redefinition of the concept of preventive war by comparing various definitions adopted by a number of States. The research will also provide new knowledge about how the redefinition of preventive use of force in jus in bello increased the risk of civilians getting killed or injured in military operations.

(4) By addressing specific socially harmful activities that have not yet received adequate academic attention, the research will add to the body of knowledge of social harm, which still remains on the margins of criminology. Firstly, the research will provide new insights into social harms created by artificial intelligence used for predicting human behavior, and formulate new solutions for regulating such technology. Secondly, the research will provide new ideas on which measures could be useful to prevent social harms caused by consumerism. This part of the research will also offer new answers to an often-neglected question in criminology – that is, why some types of deviant behavior merit the attention of the wider public while others do not.

The findings of the research will be relevant for researchers in the fields of criminology and criminal justice, and in many other fields, for example, genetics, neuroscience, behavioral science, computer science, legal philosophy, sociology, and security studies. All of the findings will be useful not only for an academic audience but also for policymakers interested in crime prevention policies.

Members of the research team

PROJECT RESULTS
  • Badalič, Vasja. The re-conceptualization of individual preventive self-defence and its impact on civilians: lecture at the virtual conference “The effects of military interventions: taking stock”, 20. februar. 2021. [COBISS.SI-ID 54060035]
  • Badalič, Vasja. Preventivno vojskovanje proti navideznim grožnjam : prispevek na Nacionalni kriminološki konferenci “Določanje, prestopanje, premeščanje in rušenje normativnih mej”, 11. december 2020, Zoom. [COBISS.SI-ID 47405827]
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