Broken Windows

Topics: Crime, Criminology, Police Pages: 6 (2080 words) Published: July 28, 2010
One of the main issues that affects the criminal justice system and DA’s office is why there is a higher occurrence of crime in many poorer or lower class neighborhoods than in middle to upper class ones. This paper raises the question whether Broken Windows theory explains the causes of crime in these areas specifically the cities of Atlanta, College Park, East Point, and Union City within Fulton County. Compared to other major counties and cities that surround Fulton County these four cities had the highest crime rates out of all. This paper also presents the arguments for and against the use of Broken Windows in police polices and policing. Finally this paper will discuss how the use or lack of use of broken windows affects the community, police, crime, and police perception. To demonstrate the theory of Broken Windows and help explain the issue presented an experiment was done by professor Zimbaro a professor of sociology at Sanford university, and he parked a car in both the Bronx, New York and Paulo Alto, California. He found that the car located in the Bronx was vandalized within minutes, however the car in Paulo Alto remained untouched for over one week. When Zimbaro smashed the windscreen on the car in the Bronx, within a few hours the car had been stripped, overturned and completely destroyed. This you can argue demonstrates how once the communal barriers are removed this gives off the signal that no one cares, and inhibits criminal and anti-social behavior (O'Shea, T., 2006). Broken Windows theory was developed by James Q. Wilson and the central theme of broken windows theory holds that when neighborhoods appear to be broken down, disordered, and generally unfriendly, they serve as a magnet to delinquent behavior and crime (Garcia, S., 2008). Broken windows theory proposes that crime is not necessarily caused by broken down neighborhoods, but that they become magnets for crime and delinquent behavior because of their disorganization. This is essentially to say that communities that lack in any sense of social cohesion and mutual interest witness a significantly higher risk of criminality. Broken windows theory suggests that a society or subset of society that appears to be lawless will itself breed lawlessness (Gault, M., & Silver, E., 2008). This encourages further uncivilized activity which eventually balloons the neighborhood into a slummy crime-filled area of lawlessness. In rundown neighborhoods, other examples of social disorder include damaged or boarded up homes and buildings, graffiti and vandalism, loitering or solicitation, and disorderly conduct by people in the area. Broken windows theory is most closely associated with conservative sociology, focusing on social cohesion and law and order (Garcia, S., 2008). Its ideas have had great influence on law enforcement policy from the 1980s to the present, but its proposals have not always proven accurate. The arguments that support Broken Windows show that many law enforcement agencies began to take aim at these so-called "broken windows" issues to protect the civility and peacefulness of neighborhoods (O'Shea, T., 2006). Several law enforcement agencies began to place a greater focus on minor or victimless crimes like street prostitution, drugs, vandalism, littering, and loitering. While some of these currently defined crimes may be unpleasant, they represent a shift in police resources away from more serious crimes in a hopeful effort to prevent many serious crimes, or at least to protect certain communities from crime and crime rates have changed for the best (O'Shea, T., 2006). These actions make citizens feel safer and when they frequent public places criminal activity is less likely to occur. Many jurisdictions in North America have adopted practices based on this Broken Window perspective. Broken window theory is directed towards promoting a more localized form of policing such as walking the beat on the basis that indicators of neighborhood...

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