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Automatic Justice?: Technology, Crime, and Social Control

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Benjamin Bowling, Amber Marks, Colman Keenan

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Law, Regulation and Technology
EditorsRoger Brownsword, Eloise Scotford, Karen Yeung
PublisherOxford Univerity Press; Oxford
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780199680832
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

King's Authors


This chapter examines how forensic science and technology are reshaping crime investigation, prosecution, and the administration of criminal justice. It highlights the profound effect of new scientific techniques, data collection devices, and mathematical analysis on the traditional criminal justice system. These blur procedural boundaries that have hitherto been central, while automating and procedurally compressing the entire criminal justice process. Technological innovation has also resulted in mass surveillance and eroded ‘double jeopardy’ protections due to scientific advances that enable the revisiting of conclusions reached long ago. These innovations point towards a system of ‘automatic justice’ that minimizes human agency and undercut traditional due process safeguards that have hitherto been central to the criminal justice model. To rebalance the relationship between state and citizen in a system of automatic criminal justice, we may need to accept the limitations of the existing criminal procedure framework and deploy privacy and data protection law.

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