How New York City Reduced Mass Incarceration: A Model for Change?
28 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2013
Date Written: January 30, 2013
Over the last two decades, crime and violence plummeted dramatically in New York City. Beginning in the 1990s, the New York Police Department shifted its policing practices, implementing a “broken windows” policing strategy which has morphed into the now infamous “stop-and-frisk” practices. During this same time period, the entire incarcerated and correctional population of the City – the number of people in jails and prisons, and on probation and parole – dropped markedly. New York City sending fewer people into the justice system reduced mass incarceration in the entire state.
In this report, leading criminologists James Austin and Michael Jacobson take an empirical look at these powerful social changes and any interconnections. Examining data from 1985 to 2009, they conclude that New York City’s “broken windows” policy did something unexpected: it reduced the entire correctional population of the state. As the NYPD focused on low-level arrests, it devoted fewer resources to felony arrests. At the same time, a lowered crime rate – as an additional factor – meant that fewer people were committing felonies.
Keywords: mass incarceration, stop and frisk, prison, policing, alternatives to incarceration, crime rate, broken windows, hot spot policing, New York Policy Department, correctional population
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