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Broken windows theory

Criminological theory / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In criminology, the broken windows theory states that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.[1] The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness.

Broken windows of the Stehli Silk Mill in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

The theory was introduced in a 1982 article by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling.[1] It was popularized in the 1990s by New York City police commissioner William Bratton and mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose policing policies were influenced by the theory.

The theory became subject to debate both within the social sciences and the public sphere. Broken windows policing has been enforced with controversial police practices, such as the high use of stop-and-frisk in New York City in the decade up to 2013.

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