Wilson, James Q., and George L. Kelling: Broken Windows Theory
Jacinta M. Gau
Broken windows theory has had a substantial impact on criminological theory and, in particular, on police policy. James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, the theory's creators, predicted that disorder is a precursor of serious crime. They posited that disorderly conditions in a neighborhood or community lead to the development of a serious crime problem in that area if the disorder is not eliminated quickly. Many people were drawn to the theory by its simplicity. It is a to-the-point theory of crime and policing, and this straightforwardness has been very attractive to policymakers, police administrators, and some academic criminologists. The present entry, which is an overview of the basic premises of broken windows theory and policing, proceeds in four sections. First, core tenets of the theory are defined and the theoretical mechanisms purported to cause crime are detailed. The proposed role of police in the broken windows process is also ...