It is widely known that in the United States you cannot arrest someone without a probable cause, and you’re not even allowed to detain them. That’s the rules we have to protect freedom and liberty in our great nation. Of course, over the last decade, and in the age of international terrorism, some folks are trying to rethink some of these things in order to protect our citizens. That’s why we have The Department of Homeland Security or DHS.
There was an interesting article in Homeland Security Online News recently which was published on June 9, 2011 in the law enforcement technology category, the title of the article was “A Machine That Predicts Crime,” and the article stated;
“The very effort by individuals who are intent on committing a crime to mask their intent has detectable physiological manifestations; it should thus be possible to build a sensor which would identify these manifestations and correlate them with the underlying malintent.”
It is estimated by the intelligence industrial complex that such surveillance systems in airports could help profile problematic individuals, and potential terrorists. The name of this technology is called “Future Attribute Screening Technology” or FAST, and there is real science behind this. You see people who act nervous, or walk a certain way, or act a certain way will often tip off by their behavior and their future intent to do harm, steal, or commit a terrorist act.
Anyone who has ever “people watched” knows that there are subtle signs that people make when they are shady characters. Having an electronic surveillance system which picks up such minor clues to future behavior could save lives. Of course, unfortunately it sounds a lot like the “Pre-Crime Division” which was depicted in the famous Hollywood movie with Tom cruise; “Minority Report” -and therefore there are sure to be critics, even if this electronic profiling system works great.
Now then, if a terrorist is stopped at an airport for suspicious behavior, and detained, and then it is later found out that they had criminal intent, that case could be thrown out because they were stopped without probable cause. Theoretically, even if it was an electronic system that did the profiling, we still know that, this is beyond the rules of our criminal justice laws.
There will be some interesting case law that comes forth in the future as more and more these systems are integrated into airport terminals, train stations, bus stations, and in other places such as government buildings in the future. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it, specifically the ramifications to criminal law.