Introduction: a few up-front discourses
Despite attacks from the criminological, legal, and academic left, “broken windows” theory is a robust policy option in criminal justice practice and crime prevention. It has not only fueled the community policing movement, it has also informed the evolution of community courts, community prosecution, and community probation and parole. The Midtown Community Court in Manhattan, to give just one example, emphasizes that broken windows is integral to its philosophy and practice. Moreover, the ideas embodied in broken windows have moved beyond criminal justice and criminology to areas like public health, education, parks, and business improvement districts (BIDs).
The original article (Wilson and Kelling 1982), published in the Atlantic, has had surprising “legs.” Although exact figures are not available, circulation staff of the Atlantic have told both James Q. Wilson and Kelling (one of the authors of this paper), that “Broken Windows” has been reproduced more than any other article in Atlantic's history. Moreover, familiarity with broken windows is widespread internationally: Fixing Broken Windows, published by Kelling and Catherine M. Coles in 1996, has been translated into Spanish, Polish, and Japanese. The vast publicity, of course, associated with both the restoration of order in New York's subways during the early 1990s and the crime reduction in the city itself in the mid-1990s contributed to the popularization of broken windows, especially since both then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner William Bratton repeatedly identified it as a key part of their policing strategy.