The Atlantic

The ‘Broken Windows’ Debate Survives Its Creators

The theory, introduced in a 1982 Atlantic article, that maintaining order could reduce the incidence of serious crimes remains contentious 35 years later.
Source: Carlos Osorio / AP

“Consider a building with a few broken windows,” wrote James Q. Wilson, a government professor at Harvard University, and George L. Kelling, a criminal-justice professor at Rutgers University, in . “If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.” Disorder, in other words, led to serious crime. Wilson and Kelling posed a revolutionary theory: If

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