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Much Ado About Nothing: "Broken Windows" Versus "What Works"

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 65 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2003 Pages: 30-33
Mario Paparozzi
Date Published
February 2003
4 pages
This article examines the need for reconciling the public safety and social justice paradigms known as the broken windows theory and the what actually works in principle approach.
After explaining that the broken windows theory refers to community-centered strategies that call for the amelioration of social problems related to crime and disorder while what actually works strategies are offender-centered, the author focuses on the ways these theories are applied in community corrections contexts. Contending that a new paradigm is necessary because of the failure of community corrections to play an effective role in reducing social problems such as crime, the author suggests that proponents of the what works agenda recognize the need for adopting principles for effective intervention measures in order to prevent and reduce offender recidivism. Addressing the broken windows theory, the author maintains that the strength of this approach is in proponents recognizing that individual offender rehabilitation is key to reducing recidivism. Following a discussion of the ways that the corrections community has tended to minimize the importance of the host environment when developing programs, polices, and practices, the author suggests that expanding the definition of what actually works in corrections allows the broken windows theory to be effectively integrated with the what works paradigm. Broadening theoretical considerations into practice allows the best techniques and ideas of both the broken windows and what works theories to be used in order to improve community corrections approaches. 11 Endnotes