SecureLaw Ltd. Phone: 312-423-670065 West Jackson Blvd., #112 Fax: 312-692-2322Chicago, IL. 60604-3598 www.securelaw.info Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2serious crimes such as gang fights or even drive-by shootings may take place. In thissense, the presence of disorder tends to reduce the social controls previously present inthe area. This results, at least in theory, in increased crime. Increased crime, particularlyserious crime, in turn contributes to the further deterioration of the physical environmentand of the economic well-being of the community.
Order maintenance theories can be traced to a line of thinking that initiallyfocused on crime ridden areas within cities. In these areas, conditions such as “physicaldeterioration, high density, economic insecurity, poor housing, family disintegration,transience, conflicting social norms, and an absence of constructive positive agencies”were deemed as contributors to criminal behavior.
Overtime, researchers started to shifttheir focus away from socioeconomic factors. Instead the focus was directed toward the physical characteristics of the community or, in other words, the “environment.”Focusing on the physical characteristics of the location where crime occurred resulted ina substantial body of research. For example, Cohen and Felson argued that thecompletion of a crime requires the convergence in time and space of an offender, asuitable target, and the “absence of guardians capable of preventing the violation.”
This focus on environmental factors was found in a number of other studies. Inkeeping with this theme, Gibbs and Erickson argued that the daily population flow inlarge cities “reduces the effectiveness of surveillance activities by increasing the number of strangers that are routinely present in the city, thereby decreasing the extent to whichtheir activities would be regarded with suspicion.”
Their conclusion is obvious: the more people in a given geographic area, the less likely strangers would be noticed. From thisthinking, natural surveillance from community residents is reduced, leading to morecrime. Lewis and Maxfield took this logic to the next level. These authors focused onspecific physical conditions within the environment, seeking to assess their impact oncrime. Their research assessed such things as abandoned buildings, teen loitering,vandalism, and drug use. They believe these factors draw little attention from police partially because the police have limited resources to effectively deal with these problems.
They are important indicators of criminality within any community.This conclusion has been echoed by a number of other authors. For example,Kelling maintained that citizens regularly report their biggest safety concerns to be thingslike “panhandling, obstreperous youths taking over parks and street corners, publicdrinking, prostitution, and other disorderly behavior.” These factors were identified as precursors to more serious crime. Moreover, the failure to remedy disorderly behaviorsmay be perceived as a sign of indifference. This indifference communicates that “no onecares”—which may, in turn, lead to more serious crime and urban decay. Consequently,the key to crime control is to address both the physical and social conditions that foster crime. By controlling or correcting these conditions, they will not fester into more seriouslevels of crime and decay.