Process Crimes and Misdemeanors

On this much, hizzoner’s critics and defenders have tended to agree: The greatest accomplishment of Rudy Giuliani’s career was how he cleaned up crime in New York City during his time as mayor.

When he entered office, the city was riddled with crimes, both serious (there had been well over 2,000 murders in 1990, the peak year) and petty (people urinating in public, the infamous squeegee men extorting drivers).

Giuliani was inspired by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson’s 1982 Atlantic story “Broken Windows,” which argued that if authorities maintained “order” by enforcing small crimes, it would deter more serious violations of the law. As mayor, he decided to put the broken-windows theory into effect, in concert with CompStat, an innovative data management system for the police.

“Wilson had a revelation about crime: Focus on the small crimes, such as littering, and keep neighborhoods clean and free of signs of disorder, such as broken windows in a building,” Giuliani explained in City Journal in 2012. “The big idea was this: if the neighborhood looks as if someone is watching and maintaining order, it is far more likely that order will prevail. A neighborhood that is clean and well-ordered sends a signal to criminals and citizens alike.”

One of the first things that Giuliani did was to go after people who jumped over turnstiles in the subway to avoid paying for rides.

“When the transit cops started arresting people for fare-jumping, previously considered too penny-ante to worry about, they found that fare-jumpers often had rap sheets including more serious crimes,” Michael Tomasky wrote. “When street cops started busting people for selling dime bags, they found the same thing.”

What happened was dramatic. The crime rate began to drop dramatically. Murders went down. New York underwent a renaissance. Giuliani touted this …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics