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Columbia Law School

Criminal Law

Broken windows theory

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 5 of 5

Full-Text Articles in Law

Punitive Preventive Justice: A Critique, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2012

Punitive Preventive Justice: A Critique, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

This book chapter critically examines punitive preventive measures, such as preventive detention for dangerous individuals, stop-and-frisks on the street, and order-maintenance policing. After reviewing the traditional concern expressed about punitive preventive practices, the chapter investigates the empirical evidence in support of such measures, concluding that the purported need for these measures is, on balance, factually overstated and generally unproven. But the empirical problems foreground a deeper theoretical difficulty with punitive preventive justice, namely that the modern approach to punitive prevention relies predominantly on economic cost-benefit analytic methods that effectively displace political debate and contestation. Like earlier punitive preventive interventions – such ...


Reefer Madness: Broken Windows Policing And Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests In New York City, 1989-2000, Bernard E. Harcourt, Jens Ludwig Jan 2007

Reefer Madness: Broken Windows Policing And Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests In New York City, 1989-2000, Bernard E. Harcourt, Jens Ludwig

Faculty Scholarship

The pattern of misdemeanor marijuana arrests in New York City since the introduction of broken windows policing in 1994 – nicely documented in this issue in Andrew Golub, Bruce Johnson, and Eloise Dunlap's article (2007) – is almost enough to make an outside observer ask: Who thought of this idea in the first place? And what were they smoking?

By the year 2000, arrests on misdemeanor charges of smoking marijuana in public view (MPV) had reached a peak of 51,267 for the city, up 2,670% from 1,851 arrests in 1994. In 1993, the year before broken windows policing ...


Reefer Madness: Broken Windows Policing And Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests In New York City, 1989-2000, Bernard E. Harcourt, Jens Ludwig Jan 2006

Reefer Madness: Broken Windows Policing And Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests In New York City, 1989-2000, Bernard E. Harcourt, Jens Ludwig

Faculty Scholarship

The pattern of misdemeanor marijuana arrests in New York City since the introduction of "broken windows" policing in 1994 is remarkable. By the year 2000, arrests on misdemeanor charges of smoking marijuana in public view (MPV) had reached 51,267 for the city, up 2,670 percent from 1,851 arrests in 1994. In 2000, misdemeanor MPV arrests accounted for 15 percent of all felony and misdemeanor arrests in New York City and 92 percent of total marijuana-related arrests in the State of New York. In addition, the pattern of arrests disproportionately targeted African-Americans and Hispanics.

In this paper, we ...


Broken Windows: New Evidence From New York City And A Five-City Social Experiment, Bernard Harcourt, Jens Ludwig Jan 2006

Broken Windows: New Evidence From New York City And A Five-City Social Experiment, Bernard Harcourt, Jens Ludwig

Faculty Scholarship

In 1982, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling suggested in an influential article in the Atlantic Monthly that targeting minor disorder could help reduce more serious crime. More than twenty years later, the three most populous cities in the United States – New York, Chicago, and, most recently, Los Angeles – have all adopted at least some aspect of Wilson and Kelling's theory, primarily through more aggressive enforcement of minor misdemeanor laws. Remarkably little, though, is currently known about the effect of broken windows policing on crime.

According to a recent National Research Council report, existing research does not provide strong ...


Broken Windows: New Evidence From New York City And A Five-City Social Experiment, Bernard E. Harcourt, Jens Ludwig Jan 2005

Broken Windows: New Evidence From New York City And A Five-City Social Experiment, Bernard E. Harcourt, Jens Ludwig

Faculty Scholarship

In 1982, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling suggested in an influential article in the Atlantic Monthly that targeting minor disorder could help reduce more serious crime. More than 20 years later, the three most populous cities in the U.S. – New York, Chicago and, most recently, Los Angeles – have all adopted at least some aspect of Wilson and Kelling's theory, primarily through more aggressive enforcement of minor misdemeanor laws. Remarkably little, though, is currently known about the effect of broken windows policing on crime.

According to a recent National Research Council report, existing research does not provide strong ...