Florida Sheriff's Pre-Crime Software Says D-Students And Victims Of Domestic Violence Are Potential Criminals

from the nothing-a-good-handcuffing-can't-fix dept

Predictive policing is coming for your children. That’s what’s happening in Florida, where the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has taken an inappropriate interest in minors. It all begins with some questionable access to sensitive records and ends with the Sheriff deciding some students are destined for a life of crime. (h/t WarOnPrivacy)

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office keeps a secret list of kids it thinks could “fall into a life of crime” based on factors like whether they’ve been abused or gotten a D or an F in school, according to the agency’s internal intelligence manual.

The Sheriff’s Office assembles the list by combining the rosters for most middle and high schools in the county with records so sensitive, they’re protected by state and federal law.

The Pasco County pre-crime list makes about as much sense as any gang database/terrorist watchlist in the country. Pretty much anything can get a student labelled a problem child whose future criminal activity is a presumed destiny. Gang databases include people who live where gangs are operating and whose children go to the same schools gang members attend.

The same guilt-by-association applies here, but more absurdly. According to the Sheriff’s pre-crime program, kids who have witnessed or been the victim of domestic abuse will probably become criminals. So will those who are struggling academically, have missed classes, or have been sent to the office for discipline.

This seems like the sort of thing better handled by school counselors, social workers, and others not inclined to view students as criminals. But it’s in the hands of the Sheriff’s office, along with sensitive information about students not normally considered to be under law enforcement’s purview.

The Pasco County Sheriff claims this is all about helping kids — not predetermining their destiny.

In a series of written statements, the Sheriff’s Office said the list is used only to help the deputies assigned to middle and high schools offer “mentorship” and “resources” to students.

Asked for specifics, it pointed to one program where school resource officers take children fishing and another where they give clothes to kids in need.

The documents obtained by TampaBay.com say something else. The Office’s manual [PDF], which provides guidance for the Sheriff’s [what fresh dystopian hell is] “juvenile intelligence analysts,” places far more emphasis on determining who should be placed on lifelong surveillance due to their alleged criminal tendencies than finding help for at-risk students.

The list itself is the Sheriff’s secret. Parents aren’t notified when their kids are put on the “pre-criminal” list. Some school administrators seem largely unaware their schools’ data is being used to profile minors. The Sheriff’s Office, however, claims it has been the recipient of student info/data for two decades. Its move to put minors on the same level as adults is perhaps to be expected, given the lack of oversight or awareness by anyone else involved.

The list of school kids isn’t the agency’s only effort to identify and target people it considers likely to commit crimes. In September, a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed that the department’s intelligence arm also uses people’s criminal histories and social networks to predict if they will break the law.

This is only going to cause more pain for Pasco County residents. As was revealed earlier by another investigation, the Pasco County Sheriff’s other predictive policing program has led to months of harassment, with supposed “at-risk” residents being cited for un-mowed lawns, missing mailbox numbers, minors smoking on their property, and having chickens in their yard. When fines and fees aren’t paid, deputies start arresting people. Anyone flagged by the system can expect to be visited several times a month by deputies who apparently have way too much time on their hands.

The same harassment is in store for students the Pasco County Sheriff deems “at risk.” And it doesn’t take much to get on the list. According to the program’s documents, getting 1 “D” in a semester will flag a student as “at risk.” So will 3-4 absences in a quarter. Being a victim of a “personal crime” is also an at-risk factor.

And so it goes. The data schools are sharing with law enforcement is fed into a spreadsheet that prejudges kids, setting them up for more interactions with law enforcement… which sets them up for even more marks in the at risk column. Like seemingly everything else law enforcement touches, it disproportionately affects certain people.

In Pasco County, Black students and students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended or referred to law enforcement, according to federal data.

It would be nice to believe this garbage in/garbage out pre-criming ends when a student graduates high school. But there’s no reason to believe the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t feed info on graduates into its other pre-crime system, ensuring deputies spend a considerable amount of time hassling people they suspect might commit a crime at some undetermined point in the future. And until there’s any real crime to handle, they can continue nickel-and-diming Pasco County residents — some of who will have become accustomed to this bullshit long before they become legal adults.

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Comments on “Florida Sheriff's Pre-Crime Software Says D-Students And Victims Of Domestic Violence Are Potential Criminals”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

By this criteria I should have been the worst criminal in history. I missed class, got D’s (which is still passing by the way. One could graduate getting only D grades), witnessed domestic abuse, and was the victim of personal crime. I had no idea that a D grade would make me a criminal otherwise I would have definitely got straight A’s. I’m glad this sheriffs office is using software that’s so smrt.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Not a criminal yet? We'll fix that.'

What could possibly go wrong with intense scrutiny by people with the power to make your life all sorts of miserable and/or short, who are just waiting for you to make the slightest mistake so they can levy wildly disproportionate punishments and make your record a huge mess such that any chance you might have had to improve yourself is thrown under a bus and then set aflame?

Any police department that decides to get into pre-crime clearly has way too much time and money on their hands and therefore should have their budgets absolutely gutted so that they are forced to pay attention to real crimes that are actually happening rather than stuff that might(and will with their ‘help’) happen sometime down the road.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

They’ve deemed these kids throwaways so it’s fairly safe to say anyone on this secret list is accused of anything, or lives near to a crime, they will not be treated as innocent until proven guilty and they will keep at them until they find something they can make them guilty of. Got to keep those stats high, who gives a crap about the lives ruined to do so?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Acting in good faith?

Do we have any remaining cause to assume county sheriff departments act in good faith? It seems the only thing they do is seek out justification to convict poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups and fill prisons with warm bodies.

How would violent crime be affected if Sheriff departments were to magically vanish?

If the answer is not much maybe we should find a non-magical way to disband our sheriffs and use their budget for more public-oriented services.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
virusdetected (profile) says:

Even George Orwell couldn’t have predicted this… Tried and convicted before the crime even occurs. Next step is to make these predictions before the kid is even born. Better yet, before the parents meet. Or, maybe, before the parents are born. Hmmm, "Eve, I need to warn you about what our models predict about Adam."

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 One quote perfectly sums up pro-lifers:

Neither term is particularly good, as it implies that others are anti-birth, or anti-life, which is nowhere near true in any semblance of reality.

Let’s just call them what they are – anti-choice, or anti-woman. Once a woman becomes pregnant by whatever means, willingly or not, they believe that she loses all autonomy and rights and exists only as an incubator. After the baby is born, she’s then to blame for any problems, and deserves no help.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Ask an anti-choice person if they believe in the sanctity of the life of any pre-born child, regardless of how that life was conceived. If they say “yes”, ask them this follow-up: “Do you support rape exceptions to abortion bans?”

Saying “no” exposes how deeply they want to control women. Saying “yes” logically compromises their anti-abortion beliefs. Either way, the answer holds up to them a mirror — and I doubt they’ll like what they see.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I would vehemently disagree, but at least I could understand a position where the child produced by rape/incest was more important than the life and rights of the mother, and then they would do whatever it did to help the child grow up in a decent environment. That would be internally consistent with the idea that an innocent child is valuable. I would angrily disagree with the idea that a woman’s rights can be thrown away that easily, but I could at least see the twisted logic.

But, they can’t even be that honest, since those same people will usually be the ones railing against welfare, help for single mothers, aid for the victims of domestic abuse, quality public education, etc. that would help the child after it was born.

They’ll demand that the mother be treated as worthless until the child is born because the child is so special, then treat the child equally as garbage once it’s born. That’s not acceptable to any moral person, no matter which version of the cross they pretend to hide behind.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"…gotta keep the prisons full of that cheap slave labor if we are going to compete with the Chinese."

Won’t work either. The real reason the US can’t retrieve manufacturing from China isn’t so much that the labor is cheaper – because today, it’s not.

It’s that a generation of every demand on factory-floor engineering, die & tool manufacture, and CAD/CAM operation having moved elsewhere means the US doesn’t have a skill pool capable of absorbing that market segment. Tom Cook said it best when he described the situation where in the US he couldn’t fill a conference room with skilled factory engineers but in China every business tender is met by a dozen factory owners with a dozen years of experience and hundreds of well-trained engineers.
The US won’t compete with that unless it begins subsidizing full education college programs and manages to sell it to people who won’t know if they’ll then have to move to China to get a job on graduating.

No, this is just yet one more case of US police acting like the Keystone Cops and trying to replace tried-and-true police work (which is cumbersome and demands a lot of effort) with a magic eight ball telling them who to go and lock up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The large US corporations may have shed skilled people, but they still exists in the US. NYC CNC is a self taught machinists encouraging others into the trades. The channel also includes visits to highly skilled US companies, such as this die maker die maker.

Indeed if you look around YouTube you will find quite an economy of small manufacturers who are quite prepared to co-operate with others, and pass on the skills that enable them to make a living. In the list of YouTube channels that I follow are at least a dozen US machinist businesses, who put out interesting content on the practice of machining, and the link to dozens more.

The evidence available suggests that the Internet is enabling a resurgence of small and medium sized enterprises, where friendly competition and co-operation are much more common than the cut-throat competition of the big corporations.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"The evidence available suggests that the Internet is enabling a resurgence of small and medium sized enterprises, where friendly competition and co-operation are much more common than the cut-throat competition of the big corporations."

I think you just answered the unasked question as to why this is not an option for the US industry.

Small and decentralized manufacturers have no place in the massive machine of an optimized global corporation where every cent per unit can be the decisionmaker on how to plan the route to market. Ironically it’s the mass volume reliability which is the primary factor, not always the cost.

China has perfected the optimized approach. You need to start a production line for two million brand-name shoes? There’s half a dozen factory owners who can have world-class shoes hitting the shelves in a week.
Need to build a new and better version of smartphone? A dozen chinese factories will take the design, debug it, package it, and have a prototype design on your desk in a week, then rebuild their whole plant to start churning millions of the things out in days after that.

Predictable cost. Reliable timeframes on production runs. Shipping and delivery in full, on time, no hassle what so ever about environmental or labor regulations…China is the wet dream of every US corporation catering to bulk distribution of high class, luxury or economy products.

The US lost that – completely, by its own hands – and no US corporation (well, western in general by now) over a certain size is willing to try to re-establish it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"There are skilled workers here in the states that would fill many of those positions…"

But not enough by far, and not with organizations behind them capable of setting up production runs and design tests for millions of units in absurdly short timeframes.

If there were then I’m pretty sure a thousand eager american businessmen would have tried and succeeded in reaching the eldorado of taking back manufacturing from China by now.
But they can’t. More importantly, they do not want to. Ever since the 80’s the trend has been pushed hard that the only thing american industry should focus on is to own and license the patents. Leave the manufacturing to dirty foreigners doing the dirty jobs.

The chinese probably could not believe the utter stupidity and eagerness with which the fuckwit gweilo wanted to hand over full control over their economy and generation’s worth of prosperity to asian business rivals.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"But they can’t ..because.. they do not want to."

Naturally. the average CEO has his/her position for around three years during which their main job is to show profit every quarter. Long-term investments which produce no effect in this time are not important.

More significantly that means if your short-term "gain" was accomplished by stripping the company of a long-time future that’s not important either.

US industry is geared completely around maximizing profits every quarter and every fiscal year.

Chinese industries are often instead geared towards producing wealth for generations down the road.

The latter method allows a nation to accept embarking on a 30 year long loss leader which ends up with it winning the grand slam forever. The former method is what has had US industries stand in line to help China get to that point.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The US won’t compete with that unless it begins subsidizing full education college programs and manages to sell it to people who won’t know if they’ll then have to move to China to get a job on graduating.

Woah now, government subsidized education? What are you, some sort of commie-socialist-liberal? Everyone knows the only American use of subsidies is to give them to massive, billion dollar companies for them to pass out as exec bonuses while they complain about how they’d really love to do what they were paid to do if only the government would give them more money.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Woah now, government subsidized education? What are you, some sort of commie-socialist-liberal?"

True enough, that’d be the reaction.

And that’s, I guess, why Chinese capitalism has beaten American capitalism hands down. China certainly isn’t afraid to invest in it’s actual workforce.
Something the US views as an anathema because they earnestly somehow believe american kids would pay college tuition to become glorified factory engineers rather than lawyers.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ice caps melting

With the greenland ice cap determined to be beyond recovery the massive albedo reduction will do its part as well. That alone has the ocean surface rising by around 3 feet by the end of this century.

The end game of global climate change has the sea levels rise by 216 feet (~70 meters) at which point the equatorial regions are uninhabitable desert and current "breadbasket" regions are drought-ridden wasteland.

The resource wars and mass migration patterns are likely to begin in the next two centuries – unless humanity manages to practice some rather unheard of restraint within the next 10-20 years or so.

Call me pessimistic but I’m fairly sure when Miami is washed out to sea half of the US will still be all "Well, dayum! Sucks to be them godless heathens, good thing it ain’t happenin’ here!" Or even mo0re likely "It’s all the fault of dem liberals!".

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ice caps melting

Mother Nature has had enough of humans screwing up everything and is in the process of kicking our collective asses of this rock.
It is, potentially, an extinction level event.

Based upon observation of the human response to the recent pandemic, I doubt humans have the capacity to save their own sorry asses.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ice caps melting

"It is, potentially, an extinction level event."

Potentially? It is an extinction-level event. Bluntly put a century from now some 90% of what is arable land today won’t be. The habitable zone will shift drastically.

Roughly half the current human population will have to flee into territory occupied by the other half. Neither infrastructure nor food or water sanitation logistics is able to cope with that.

Bluntly put the ship sailed on keeping global warming within an "acceptable" rate of acceleration years ago. At best we’ll be able to mitigate the escalation for – hopefully – enough time to adapt enough of society to the changing conditions to avoid the worst.

Given the "ability" of governments to not be shortsighted fucks focused on their next election and the unwillingness of the voting citizenry to actually learn, I’m thinking Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road were more prophecy than fiction.

ECA (profile) says:


most people having problems in school tend to have other problems. And this is adding to the problem.

But most of their problem tends to be TAKING TIME with them, to find the problem and solve it, then finding the way they learn best.
Tons of schools have teachers who think everyone learns the same. But that is totally WRONG. I know people that if you give them something they can put their hands on(really) building Blocks, bricks, Anything physical. They have Something to learn and WILL learn it. knowing that x^2 + y^2= z^2(3^2+4^2=5^2 = 9+16=25) will create a Perfect 90% angle to make a square corner.
I know people who can read the book and understand and challenge a teacher, except for the abstract idea’s.
I know people who can visualize everything you say, and expand on the idea and concepts it creates.

But how many teachers can explain, show, give a physical representation in Every instance. How many can take the time to figure out a child has a reading problem based on Eye strain, or that something JUST isnt clicking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thing is, they’re not wrong in their prognosis.

What they’re wrong in is their diagnosis.

The fact that this is the case casts light on how we as a society treat people with certain learning styles and people who are abused by society. The result should be modified teaching programs and police response to domestic violence calls, not arrests.

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