New Research Proves Facial Recognition Technology Targets Black People, Causing Rise In False Arrests
The latest reports prove that using facial recognition technology will increase racial inequities in policing.
An op-ed written by criminal justice experts Thaddeus L. Johnson and Natasha N. Johnson points out that facial recognition leads police departments to arrest Black people at disproportionately high rates, Insider reports. According to some research the pair unveiled, Black people are also overrepresented in mugshot databases, mostly skewing from artificial intelligence.
“We believe this results from factors that include the lack of Black faces in the algorithms’ training data sets, a belief that these programs are infallible, and a tendency of officers’ own biases to magnify these issues,” the experts wrote in Scientific American.
“Consequently, AI is more likely to mark Black faces as criminal, leading to the targeting and arresting of innocent Black people,” the experts wrote.
Both researchers stressed that civil rights advocates have made this point for years. Advocates and tech experts warned that technology struggles to distinguish darker faces, leading to more racial profiling and false arrests, such as what happened to Porcha Woodruff.
Woodruff, a 32-year-old pregnant Black woman, was arrested in February 2023 by the Detroit Police Department while trying to get her children ready for school, according to NBC News. Facial recognition technology identified her as a suspect in a robbery and carjacking a month before. The case was ultimately dismissed when the victim never showed up to court.
This is just one case that has challenged police departments to change their policies. Detroit Police Chief James White says he doesn’t want this ever to happen again and declared it “very poor” police work by his officers.
“We want to ensure that nothing like this happens again,” White said. After the policies are presented to the Detroit Police Board of Commissioners, DPD will not be allowed “to use facial-recognition-derived images in a photographic lineup. Period.”