Nicolas Claidière
Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive
Aix-Marseille University, CNRS
13331 Marseille, France

Experimental evidence for the Broken Window Theory

In the late 80′s, New York experienced a high rate of violence and crack was everywhere. In 1985 when George L. Kelling, coauthor of the article “Broken Windows“, was hired as a consultant to the New York City Transit Authority, the subway was awfull. Kelling implemented new measures. He made every graffiti disappear and cleaned every station. Day after day after day, new graffitti would be made in the night and removed during the day, until oneday the new policy started to be successful and graffiti progressively disappeared. Mayor and police department of New York also employed the same method, they implemented a zero tolerance policing with easier arrestee procedure. Police started enforcing the law very strictly, against subway fare evasion, public drinkers, urinators, and the like. The rates of both petty and serious crime fell suddenly and significantly.

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