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Scanning Law Enforcement Futures

Page history last edited by Bob-RJ Burkhart 12 years, 5 months ago

Conclusion: Implications for Law Enforcement

Clearly there is considerable overlapping in the trend categories analyzed above; economic conditions have social and political impacts, and technologies alter lifestyles and attitudes, with often unexpected implications for criminal justice. By reviewing the larger trends at work in the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political contexts, we can better understand the potential futures of crime and justice.


Across all generations and population groups, it is important to ask how society will view crime and punishment even one decade from now. There is a growing fear that the U.S. corrections system has failed in its mission. Too many are incarcerated and too few are corrected - that is, many never escape the cycle of recidivism.

Longitudinal studies find higher mortality, higher health risks, and higher unemployment among those who have been released from prison than among the general population.


Many thought-leaders suggest that the U.S. criminal justice system has failed to address many of the factors that eventually lead to crime, such as inequality of opportunity, health and fitness problems, and inadequate education. Some suggest that the United States has tolerated the conditions that lead to crime, only to build more prisons to incarcerate the criminals.


How will society define "crime" and "justice" two or three decades from now? What types of crime will be of primary concern then that may not even exist today? What paradigms for punishment, correction, and reintegration into society will be broadly accepted and institutionalized? Only by addressing questions like these can we identify and implement the strategies - and vision - that will help us create the future we prefer.


WFS-Beta Download: http://beta.wfs.org/Upload/JA2010_Meade.pdf (22pp)


Are Virtual Crimes Real?

As technology enables new forms of crime, it may be difficult to establish whether or not a crime has actually taken place and where to assign responsibility.



* A Missouri teenager, Megan Meier, committed suicide on the day after a fraudulent online chat partner suddenly broke off their relationship.

* Two elementary school students posted a video, "Top Six Ways to Kill Piper," on YouTube, in which they suggested ways to kill a classmate they did not like.


Violent video games are often cited as causing violent crime, and criticism is likely to grow as video games incorporate more advanced virtual-reality technology. Similarly, media personalities on the far right have been blamed for provoking the recent shooting of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial.


Such episodes and reactions may presage a broader definition of responsibility for criminal acts as technologies advance at an accelerated rate.

- Eric Meade

"At the national and international levels, there may be a continued blurring of the boundary between counterterrorism and law enforcement."


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