Illusion of Order: The False Promise of Broken Windows Policing

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - 304 pages
This is the first book to challenge the broken-windows theory of crime, which argues that permitting minor misdemeanors, such as loitering and vagrancy, to go unpunished only encourages more serious crime. The theory has revolutionized policing in the United States and abroad, with its emphasis on policies that crack down on disorderly conduct and aggressively enforce misdemeanor laws. The problem, argues Bernard Harcourt, is that although the broken-windows theory has been around for nearly thirty years, it has never been empirically verified. Indeed, existing data suggest that it is false. Conceptually, it rests on unexamined categories of law abiders and disorderly people and of order and disorder, which have no intrinsic reality, independent of the techniques of punishment that we implement in our society. How did the new order-maintenance approach to criminal justice--a theory without solid empirical support, a theory that is conceptually flawed and results in aggressive detentions of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens--come to be one of the leading criminal justice theories embraced by progressive reformers, policymakers, and academics throughout the world? This book explores the reasons why. It also presents a new, more thoughtful vision of criminal justice.

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Illusion of order: the false promise of broken windows policing

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For the past couple of decades, many police departments throughout the United States have utilized the order-maintenance approach. This method of policing has been directly influenced by the well ... Read full review

Contents

Punishment and Criminal Justice at the Turn of Century
1
The OrderMaintenance Approach
23
Empirical Critique
57
The Broken Windows Theory
59
Policing Strategies and Methodology
90
Theoretical Critique
123
On Disorderly Disreputable or Unpredictable People
127
The Implications of Subject Creation
160
The Turn to Harm as Justification
185
Rethinking Punishment and Criminal Justice
215
An Alternative Vision
217
Toward a New Mode of Political Analysis
242
Notes
251
Bibliography
265
Index
289
Copyright

Rhetorical Critique
181

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About the author (2009)

Bernard Harcourt is Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Criminology and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Political Science at University of Chicago.

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