The "Pattern Rapist" Database
Andrew Vachss has lectured for many years on the importance of systematically analyzing the behavior (not the "minds") of violent criminals. In Down Here, he included a set of forms that would help law enforcement officers database information about repetitious predators as soon as they catch a case. If agencies created and shared such databases, perpetrators would lose the advantage of finding new hunting grounds just by crossing jurisdictional boundaries. "Pattern rapists" could be recognized and caught more quickly, thus reducing the total number of victims.
This database would also lower the odds against convicting pattern rapists. By showing a specific, repeated style of predatory behavior, prosecutors could demonstrate to a jury that a defendant perpetrated crimes against multiple victims. Looking for these patterns is sometimes called linkage analysis. But proper linkage analysis takes more than "expert testimony" that a pattern exists. Any pair of shaggy white dogs will look similar to each other; it''s only when you compare them with many other shaggy white dogs can you determine whether your pair belongs to the same breed.
So the prosecution must do more than show that the crimes in question have similar features. It must also show that the behavior performed during those crimes differs in pattern from all other crimes of same type. Without a current and comprehensive database to draw on, prosecutors cannot reliably prove their cases through linkage analysis. For example, in the recent case of State v. Fortin, 178 N.J. 540; 843 A.2d 974 (N.J., 2004), the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned a conviction that relied on linkage analysis, because the prosecution's FBI expert had employed no database in giving his opinion.
Linkage analysis will become a valuable scientific tool for police and prosecutors alike, once the database illustrated in Down Here is created and utilized. Think this might be a more valuable use of crime-fighting money than more DARE officers?
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