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Patrolling the Future: Unintended Consequences of Predictive Policing in Chicago

By Jenny Jiao   

In the past decade, police departments have increasingly adopted predictive policing programs in an effort to identify where crimes will occur and who will commit them. Yet, there have been few empirical analyses to date examining the efficacy of such initiatives in preventing crime. Using police and court data from the second-largest police department in the country, this paper seeks to evaluate the pilot version of Chicago’s Strategic Subject List, a person-based predictive policing program. Using a boundary discontinuity design, I find that individuals eligible for the Strategic Subject List were 2.07 times more likely to be found not guilty of all charges in court than similarly situated individuals in the control group. Taking into account crime category heterogeneity, I find evidence that individuals previously arrested for drug crimes drive this result. This research sheds light on the potential unintended consequences of person-based predictive policing.

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Advisors: Professor Patrick Bayer, Professor Bocar Ba | JEL Codes: K4, K42, O33

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