States rely on determinist tests, genes to track kids to prison
17 Mar 2008

States rely on determinist tests, genes to track kids to prison

Several U.S. states plan future prison build-outs

17 Mar 2008

Several U.S. states plan future prison build-outs based on second or third-grade reading scores. But now this trend of tracking young children for a career in crime is spreading to other nations? The Guardian reports that Scotland Yard’s most senior forensics expert, Gary Pugh, want elementary school kids to be “eligible for the [national] DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert.” From the article:

‘If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,’ said Pugh. ‘You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won’t. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.’

[…]

Chris Davis, of the National Primary Headteachers’ Association, said most teachers and parents would find the suggestion an ‘anathema’ and potentially very dangerous. ‘It could be seen as a step towards a police state,’ he said. ‘It is condemning them at a very young age to something they have not yet done. They may have the potential to do something, but we all have the potential to do things. To label children at that stage and put them on a register is going too far.’

What’s next? Requiring DNA samples from second graders who underperform in a reading test so they can be easily identified by future forensic criminologists?

These trends seem like a variation of a theme derived from the dystopias of Minority Report‘s pre-crime and Gattaca‘s eugenics and genetic discrimination, with an added element of the growing omniscience of the state. Because of the threat of discrimination, any embrace of genetic determinism by the state could have tremendous negative impacts. What would it take to expand GINA to protect U.S. students in educational settings?

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