NOT JUST ANOTHER DATABASE: THE TRANSACTIONS THAT ENACT YOUNG OFFENDERS Government practices from social work and criminal justice to health care and taxation rely on administrative databases to identify, track, monitor, evaluate, govern and intervene in the life chances and trajectories of people. While governments have long compiled such databases their proliferation and the uses to which they are being put are being advanced in part because of the possibilities of digitised formats and the capacity of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for storing, searching, tracing, tracking and joining up data across government sites to analyse how the MIS is implicated in materialising relations, enacting subjects and governing young offenders.
Or to put it another way how it does not simply share and provide information for implementing a youth justice government policy, but enacts its subjects of governing (who) and its targeted modes of intervention (i.e., what is to be done)
not only represent but enact a young offender as a multiple rather than singular subject.
the concept of transactivity as advanced by Dewey and Bentley to capture how the actions of practitioners in relation to the MIS are part of a single process whereby knowing and the known are simultaneously and mutually changed.
Annemarie Mol’s study of how disease is a multiply enacted entity in the hospital. 7 In her book The Body Multiple, she decentres the ontology of a disease— lower-limb atherosclerosis—by demonstrating how it is multiply enacted through myriad situated practices
for Mol, a single disease is ontologically multiplied and then coordinated rather than standardised into a singularity
At each practitioner site (social work, police, criminal justice and so on) a young person is classified and categorized according to particular situated relations and interventions such as an assessment, referral, treatment, criminal charge, or sentence. Through these categorisations he/she is enacted as a child in care, repeat offender, mental health patient, employee, student, trainee, substance misuser, and so on. But importantly the coordination of multiple and ontologically plural subject positions involves a further enactment in a virtual digital context that assembles, materialises and visualises multiple subjects to enact them as young offender
rather than reducing multiplicity, the MIS maintains different subject positions such that the young offender is a composite.
MIS---->>>>>>>> Suppliers of software for youth justice are guided by technical information, templates, data standards and domain models created by the YJB conceptual data model=>>a ‘conceptual data model’ identifies all of the elements or ‘classes’ of data that make up the young person. The ‘person class’ consists of attributes such as date of birth, gender, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, unique ID numbers, and photograph
‘contextual data model=>> onsists of the various encounters and interventions with the young person: meetings, hearings, secure estate, intervention programmes, community or custodial orders, education and learning plans, assessments, notifications, and so on (each element is defined ) For each of these interventions ‘attributes’ are identified such as start and end dates of involvements, locational details (e.g., address), offences information, court data (charges, sentencing) etc
The ‘young person’ is at the centre of the diagram and part of a web of relations. She/he is composed of a ‘person class’ (e.g., biographical details) and contexts consisting of properties (e.g., record creation dates), attributes (e.g., referrals, assessments) and relationships (e.g., agency/service), all coded according to specified semantics (e.g., GenderCurrentType, MentalHealthConcernsType). Links are also coded between related entities (e.g., between a hearing and intervention programme). All of the contexts are connected to and gathered up into the young person who is at the centre of the model and cumulatively make up her subjectivity and specificity as a young offender as well as the anonymous subject of quarterly returns to the YJMIS.
While the YJB establishes these models and reporting regulations, YOTs are responsible for adopting software that is operationally compliant and interoperable with the YJMIS and typically they purchase packages tailored to meet these requirements CACI describes its software suite as a ‘transformational technology’ that moves from a focus on ‘capturing the data’ to making ‘better use of that data.’ To do so, it offers a number of ‘tools for transformation’ such as ‘two-way’ includes an interactive case chronology and timeline feature that includes not only key youth justice events but also those of partner agencies
to ‘see’ and identify the young offender who is made up of multiple contexts
the formatting and performative work of infrastructural and software coding systems is typically not addressed, usually out-of-sight and their mediating steps left opaque their organization and codings ‘render objects, events and relations into communicable signs,’ but in the process of materializing these they also ‘re-make’ them.
such software systems or ‘algorithm machines’ 16 do not merely implement a policy or programme but are generative of both their subjects of governing and modes of intervention.
conceiving of contexts as specific situated inscription practices—what I will call transactions—that enact young people as multiple subjects. Through the virtual context of the MIS—another situated context—multiple subjects are then assembled into a ‘centre of calculation’ 17 that actualises connections otherwise beyond reach of the imagination.
The subject multiple the MIS designates the multiple sites and engagements with a young person as ‘contexts’ that practitioners ‘record’ through administrative ‘data entry.Contexts are thus practices made up of specific events involving sets of relations. As Mol has put it, without patients and multiple other elements a doctor cannot make a diagnosis and as such each of these—the people and things—‘give shape’ to the ‘reality’ of a phenomenon