Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Broken Windows Theory 

The background on Broken windows Theory was formed by James Wilson and George Kelling, based on their criminologist background, is a “theory of the norm setting and signaling effects of urban disorder and vandalism on additional Crime and anti- social behavior.” Wilson and Kelling introduced this theory around 1982. The name Broken Windows Theory, was named because Wilson and Kelling, used this example to explain their theory, “Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.”(The Broken Window Crime Theory pg. 1)  The definition means that when a disorder happens in an area more additional crime will follow.

The effect The Broken Windows Theory has a huge role on the community and neighborhoods. For example when the community looks like a high crime problem it probably is a high crime community. Example what a high crime community looks like is banded buildings, broken windows, vandalism, and graffiti. When the community has these problems it will draw more disorder and crime to the community. This is why it plays a huge role on the community and the public. The public and the community does not want to have a high crime and disorder problem. Therefore when these situations happen it has an effect on the community.

Travis Pratt a criminologist, who has been studying the theory of Broken Windows for many. Pratt’s, theory is if the community looks like it has order and looks pleasant, less crime will happen in those parts of towns. If a town has broken down cars on the side of the road, spray paint on walls and stop signs there is not enough order. And that is what causes broken widows theory. Pratt came up with an experiment where he took the same two cars. He put them in to different location and wanted to see what happened. He put one car in an isolated area, and the other one in a nice part of the community. The one in the isolated area last a day before it was stripped of its parts. The car in the pleasant part of town was fine over a week. So Travis C. Pratt broke one of the windows of the car that was located in the pleasant part of the community. It was hours after the car was stripped of its parts. I believe that as long as a community is kept clean, the community will have less crime.

Whether people see the disorder as a distinct problem separate from other negative community’s settings. If people of the community don’t see it as a problem then the police are not going to see it has a problem. The police are there to serve and protect the public. If the public see it as a problem then the police will respond to the situation. Wilson and Kelling hypothesized that even a single instance of disorder can spark a chain reaction of community decline if it’s not resolved immediately. The central theme of broken windows theory according to Wilson and Kelling, says “that when neighborhoods appear to be broken down, disordered, and generally unfriendly, they serve as a magnet to delinquent behavior and crime. 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.”(The Broken Window Crime Theory pg.2)

 I believe the broken windows theory is the most interesting theory to study in the criminal justice system. I think it is the most important theory is well. The reason behind that is, police are always looking for a away to prevent crime. The broken windows theory is have to prevent crime and to lower disorder. Broken Window is a disorder. The Disorder is the main problem. If you prevent the disorder you will prevent the crime. 
Works Cited
"The Broken Window Crime Theory - by Art Vandelay - Page 2 - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. <>. 


  1. Nice post. I would have to agree with you. The broken windows theory is one that has always intrigued me. I find it extremely interesting that something as simple as the appearance of the buildings in a neighborhood has a direct influence on the amount of crime that plagues that area. I think that it is very important because it is provides an easy and direct solution in fighting crime. Instead of out patrolling the streets, trying to predict the next thing thats going to happen, you can make changes to the neighborhood to indirectly reduce crime rates. Very good article.

  2. I also agree that this is an interesting theory to study in criminal justice. I do believe that this theory can hold true in certain parts of/towns but I also think that there are so many other fundamental factors that contribute to crime such as being in a low-income neighborhood or a densely populated neighborhood. While I think this is a good theory, I think it only scratches the surface of attacking the problem of crime. That said, I do think that repairing the small quality of life issues is the first step toward making a neighborhood's crime rate go down, but it is by far not the only factor that needs to be considered.