He’s twenty-two years old, African-American, born and raised in
the Cabrini-Green project in Chicago, from whence his family was
driven in 1996 by redevelopment. His father left home when he was
three and hasn’t come back. His mother has been on welfare most
of his life, with sporadic jobs, and is on and off of heroin.
Jamal dropped out of high school when he turned eighteen, and has
been involved in gangs for almost a decade. He makes what money
he has from selling drugs and the occasional service job; he has
never risen above the poverty line.
He has been arrested several times, for drug and weapons possession,
and once for armed robbery. As his status has risen in his gang,
he has shown more aggressive tendencies, lashing out violently at
former friends and even family.
According to current demographic and judicial statistics, Jamal
is in a high risk situation; the likelihood that he will commit
a violent crime and hurt or kill someone is, depending on what data
you use, between 40 and 80%. There is little agreement among his
parole officers and social workers about when and how he will hurt
another person, but none among them doubt that the outcome is all-but-inevitable.
Each of them has considered how, under current law, they can take
Jamal into custody before that day comes. None of them wants the
life of another human being on their hands.
Under logic parallel to Bush’s preemption doctrine, why should
we not arrest Jamal?