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The Effects of Physical, Social, and Housing Disorder on Neighborhood Crime: A Contemporary Test of Broken Windows Theory

Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA
Wauwatosa Police Department, Wauwatosa, WI 53226, USA
Justice Research and Statistics Association, Washington, DC 20005, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8(12), 583;
Received: 29 September 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 9 December 2019 / Published: 12 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Crime Mapping and Analysis Using GIS)
The current study tests neighborhood (i.e., block group) effects reflective of broken windows theory (i.e., neighborhood, public space, social, housing disorder) on crime. Furthermore, these effects are tested independently on serious (i.e., Part I), and less serious (i.e., Part II) crime rates. Disorder data on a racially/ethnically stratified sample of block groups (N = 60) within Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. were collected through systematic observations. Using these data, along with census and crime data, linear regression modeling was employed to test the effect of disorder measures on each crime outcome measure. Consistent with broken windows theory, disorder was associated with crime rates; however, the effect of disorder on crime was limited to the public space disorder measure. Furthermore, the effects of disorder on Part I crime rates were mediated by Part II offenses. Partial support was found for broken windows theory, in which neighborhood context had a greater effect on less serious offenses. Neighborhoods with increasing frequencies of disorder may benefit from bolstering partnerships between law enforcement officers, community members, and other local stakeholders with the aim of deterring offending at all levels, and consequently, decreasing indices of disorder and crime. View Full-Text
Keywords: broken windows theory; neighborhood disorder; offending broken windows theory; neighborhood disorder; offending
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Konkel, R.H.; Ratkowski, D.; Tapp, S.N. The Effects of Physical, Social, and Housing Disorder on Neighborhood Crime: A Contemporary Test of Broken Windows Theory. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8, 583.

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