The “Broken Windows” Theory and Community Supervision:


WethePeople                                           Public Safety is Sometimes a Matter of Appearance

By Joyce McGinnis, Office of Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs (CSOSA Newslink, August 2003)

As CSOSA prepares to unveil its second Strategic Plan, which is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget, we should pause to remember the literature and statistics that support what we do. Our supervision practices are rooted in the rich soil of criminal justice scholarship.

One of the most influential theories in recent criminal justice literature is that of “broken windows.” This theory, originally introduced in 1969, has been the subject of heated debate in all areas of law enforcement. In an article in the Atlantic Monthly, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling discussed a study of foot-patrol policing in Newark, New Jersey. Interestingly, although the presence or absence of officers on foot patrol did not influence crime rates in the city’s neighborhoods, citizens perceived they were safer—and that crime was lower—if they saw a cop on the beat. Wilson and Kelling argued that the perception of safety was in fact the result of the police officers performing an important function. Foot-patrol officers maintained a “surface” order in their neighborhoods. They silenced boisterous teenagers, moved loiterers along, and noted unusual activity. They provided a visible law enforcement presence. Because residents felt that presence, they were more likely to enforce the neighborhood’s “rules” themselves.

The authors also discussed an experiment performed with an abandoned car. If the car was placed on a street in the Bronx, it was stripped of all useful parts and destroyed within hours. In quieter, more affluent Palo Alto, California, the car was not ransacked unless it appeared to be damaged. After the study’s authors smashed one window with a sledgehammer, passersby viewed the car as “disposable” and soon joined in the destructive fun.

Wilson and Kelling summarized their views as follows:

Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding…We suggest that “untended” behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls. A stable neighborhood … can change, in a few years or even a few months, to an inhospitable and frightening jungle.

This theory had a significant impact on all aspects of law enforcement that touch the community. The “community policing” and “restorative justice” movements can be traced to this theory. Community involvement, partnership with law enforcement officers, and the idea that offenders should make amends with the community are all linked to the idea that visible involvement brings visible results. If people appear to care, then potential criminals will believe that they do care—and will respect their rights and their property.

By the close of the 1990s, public policymakers began to examine the applicability of the “broken windows” model to community supervision. A group of practitioners and policymakers convened as the Reinventing Probation Council in 1998. Their report, “Transforming Probation Through Leadership: The ‘Broken Windows’ Model” appeared in August 1999. Both the report and subsequent commentary on it have influenced CSOSA’s approach to community supervision.

The “broken windows” model of probation maintains that the primary “product” of community supervision is not services delivered to those under supervision, but public safety for the entire community. The authors argued that public confidence in community supervision had eroded significantly, and that to rebuild it, administrators and policymakers must adopt an approach that redefines the “customer” of community supervision to encompass all citizens—offenders, victims, and ordinary individuals. To that end, the authors articulated seven principles through which community supervision can be “reinvented”:

  1. Place public safety first;
  2. Supervise probationers in the neighborhood, not the office;
  3. Rationally allocate resources;
  4. Provide for strong enforcement of probation conditions and a quick response to violations;
  5. Develop partners in the community;
  6. Establish performance-based initiatives; and
  7. Cultivate strong leadership.

CSOSA has incorporated these principles into its program model. Our approach to community supervision is grounded in the idea that public safety is our most important outcome. Moreover, our Community Supervision Officers work in the community to maintain a visible law enforcement presence and contribute to public order.

While the “broken windows” model is a compelling statement of the public’s stake in effective community supervision, it does not address the significant needs and deficits that impede offenders’ desire to change. The offenders under CSOSA’s supervision must overcome significant functional deficits, poor work histories, and overwhelming drug addiction to establish a viable, crime-free lifestyle. A comprehensive community corrections system that ignores these needs and focuses solely on enforcement does little to increase public safety or public confidence.

Faye Taxman of the University of Maryland and James Byrne of the University of Massachusetts articulated this deficiency in a 2001 article, “Fixing ‘Broken Windows’ Probation.” Taxman and Byrne argued that treatment is an essential component of a successful, truly comprehensive community corrections strategy. They wrote:

Our review of the research … reveals that it is offender improvement in the areas of employment, substance abuse, personal and family problems that is directly related to recidivism reduction. At its core, offender change in these areas is precisely what probation officers should focus on during supervision.

In developing its supervision model, CSOSA recognized that the principles articulated in the “broken windows” model need not be viewed as conflicting with the provision of treatment and other support programming. On the contrary, the external control exercised through close supervision, meaningful sanctions, and surveillance drug testing can complement the offender’s participation in support programs. If the principles of “broken windows” are aimed at establishing a system of external accountability—the offender is watched and is punished when non-compliance is detected—treatment and other programming are intended to establish a system of internal accountability. Through success in treatment, education, job training, and other experiences, the offender learns that change is possible and desirable. He or she develops the desire to behave differently.

CSOSA’s supervision model adapts an influential theory to the realities of our population. It is a unique blend of accountability to the community and opportunity for the individual. Our success will therefore benefit both the public we serve and the offenders we supervise.

Resource: csosa.gov

Again, there are so many problems with the bw law … Ask yourself, has the bw law lead to systematic population control civil unrest and civil rights abuses or  an established system of internal accountability, job training or education to gain access an alternative lifestyle.  If you listen to the people who experience the “brokenwindows” law, the practice seems to only occur in white communities and in some instances the model is a great path toward jail time that does not meet the charges rendered. It’s no shock that unemployment among men&women of colour is high then include an arrest that could be because you couldn’t pay for a ticket or a misdemeanor changes your life forever. The solutions seem easy … stop treating people of colour as if they need controlling offer equal education jobs and strive for income equality for all, #blacklivesmatter ~Nativegrl77

a Summer Drink that does so much more thank quench your thrist


Best Juice & Smoothie Recipe for High Blood Pressure

Here is the most potent blood pressure lowering juice & smoothie recipe:

Always include the peel of the carrot, cucumber, tomato and beet for extra nutrition.

  • Prep Time:5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time:5 minutes
  • Yield: 20 oz.
  •  maybe add some honey ~Nativegrl77

Clean Bandit – Show Me Love feat. Elisabeth Troy


They said: “they wanted to “catch him in the act”


It’s one of the saddest stories I’ve come across yet.

The Alabama girl who was assaulted by a fellow student in a middle school bathroom after school officials used her as bait to “catch him in the act” has faced a long and difficult road.

When we learned about the case here at the National Women’s Law Center, we were horrified. Since we’re experts in Title IX, we immediately called the local law firm the student’s family had hired and offered to help. We also called the U.S. Department of Justice and asked them to help. Last week, we, joined by DOJ, fought for her during oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit — and we’ll keep standing with her as the fight for justice goes on.

Your donation of $10 or more will help us stand with students everywhere — and keep working toward a better future.

Thank you, again, for everything you’ve already done to support the rights of women and girls.

With gratitude,
Neena Chaudhry
Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics
National Women’s Law Center

Purvi Patel could just be the beginning …


 Purvi Patel, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide and neglect of a dependent on Monday, at the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend, Ind. Credit Robert Franklin/Associated Press, via South Bend Tribune
APRIL 1, 2015
The prosecution of Purvi Patel began in sorrow and ended in more sadness this week. Patel, a 33-year-old woman who lives in Indiana, was accused of feticide — specifically, illegally inducing her own abortion — and accused of having a baby whom she allowed to die. The facts supporting each count are murky, but a jury convicted Patel in February, and on Monday she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

It’s tempting to simply look away from Patel’s case on the grounds that it is an outlier, however tragic. But it demonstrates how unsparing the criminal-justice system can be to women whose pregnancies end in (or otherwise involve) suspicious circumstances. If one lesson of the case is about the legal risk of inducing your own late-term abortion, another is about the peril of trying to get medical help when you are bleeding and in pain.

Last July, Patel went to an emergency room in South Bend, Ind., where she told the doctors she had a miscarriage. Asked what she had done with the fetal remains, she said the baby was stillborn and, not knowing what else to do, she put the body in a bag and left it in a Dumpster. The police were able to recover the body. Later, they also found text messages in which Patel told a friend about ordering pills to induce an abortion from a pharmacy in Hong Kong and about taking the medication. Three days later, she texted the same friend, “Just lost the baby.”

Patel was charged with felony child neglect and feticide, based on the supposed self-abortion. Asked by Slate’s Leon Neyfakh about the apparent contradiction between the charges, the St. Joseph County prosecutor, Ken Cotter, said that a person can be guilty of feticide under Indiana law for deliberately trying to end a pregnancy, even if the fetus survives. As Neyfakh points out, the Indiana feticide statute exempts legal abortions — but while the pills Patel took are available in the United States with a prescription, it’s against the law to order them online, as she apparently did. And so she was prosecuted for taking the medication as well as for letting her baby die after the self-abortion failed.

If this case were only about a woman who clearly gave birth to a live baby and then killed her child, it would be clear cut. There is a line between pregnancy and birth, and once it is crossed, the state has just as much at stake in protecting the life of a newborn as it does in protecting the life of anyone else. But the evidence that Patel’s baby was born alive is sharply contested. The pathologist who testified for the defense, Shaku Teas, said the baby was stillborn. Teas told the court the fetus was at 23 or 24 weeks gestation and that its lungs weren’t developed enough to breathe. (Here’s more support for this position.)

But the pathologist for the prosecution, Joseph Prahlow, testified that the fetus was further along than that — at 25 to 30 weeks gestation, which is past the point of viability — and was born alive. News reports from the trial emphasized Prahlow’s use of a “lung float test” in making his determination. The idea behind the test — which dates from the 17th century — is that if the lungs float in water, the baby took at least one breath. If they sink, then the fetus died before leaving the womb.

If that sounds like the old test for witchcraft — if an accused witch floated, she was judged guilty; if she sank, she was innocent — it’s also about as old and nearly as discredited. “The lung float test was disproven over 100 years ago as an indicator for live birth,” Gregory J. Davis, assistant state medical examiner for Kentucky and a professor of pathology and lab medicine at the University of Kentucky, told me. “It’s just not valid.”

When I called Prahlow, who is a professor of pathology and lab medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend, and a former president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, he conceded that “the lung float test, in and of itself, is unreliable.” Still, Prahlow argued, the lung test could “provide corroborating evidence, in light of additional findings.”

Prahlow enumerated those findings to me as he had to the Patel jury: The weight of the lungs and the other organs, the inflation of the lungs and the air sacs, the presence of blood in the lung vessels and the “relative maturity” of the lungs. Put these findings together, along with a lack of blood in the baby’s body, and “I can’t come up with any other explanation other than that this baby was born alive,” Prahlow said.

But Davis was unconvinced. He said that while he knows and respects Prahlow, his conclusion was “dead wrong.” Prahlow’s list of findings are still “totally nonspecific” as to whether Patel’s baby died in utero or after being born, Davis said. “Or even if we agree hypothetically that the baby took a breath, that doesn’t mean Ms. Patel did anything wrong. What if she was scared and bleeding herself, and she didn’t clamp the cord in time, because she didn’t know how, and the baby died?”

To Davis, the forensics in this case can’t determine whether Patel was culpable any more than looking at a body that fell from a high building can determine whether the fall was a suicide, an accident or a homicide. “Sometimes the only answer you can give as a scientist is ‘I don’t know,’” he said.

Whatever happened to Patel and her baby at the point of delivery, it’s hard to imagine that either the prosecution or the judge at sentencing would have come down as hard on her if they weren’t sure she’d tried to induce her own illegal abortion. And this is where Patel’s case moves from a fight over birth to a fight over pregnancy.

This is the first case I can find in which a state-level feticide law has been successfully used to punish a woman for trying to have an abortion. Women have been charged with other crimes after taking abortion pills without a prescription, but the feticide charge appears to be Indiana’s idea. It could spread, though: About 38 states have fetal homicide laws in place.

The common justification for these measures is that they protect pregnant women against unscrupulous abortion providers or abusive partners. Indiana’s feticide law was intended to apply to the knowing or intentional termination of another’s pregnancy, its history shows. Abortion opponents, who support feticide laws, have given repeated assurances that their aim is not to put pregnant women in prison. “We do not think women should be criminalized,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List told NPR in 2012 after a woman in Idaho was prosecuted for a self-induced abortion, also with pills she ordered online. “Criminal sanctions or any kind of sanctions are appropriate for abortionists and not for women.”

Nevertheless, prosecutions like these are growing more frequent. In Indiana, before Purvi Patel, there was Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant who tried to commit suicide while pregnant and was also charged with feticide. The charges against Shuai were dropped in 2013 after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and spent a year in custody. In Iowa, Christine Taylor faced charges for attempted fetal homicide after falling down the stairs, going to the hospital and being reported for trying to end her pregnancy.

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The charges in Taylor’s case were dropped, too. But in an Op-Ed in The Times last year, Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and Jeanne Flavin, a sociology professor at Fordham University, detailed similar cases. A study they conducted, surveying cases since 1973, turned up hundreds of arrests of women for actions taken during their own pregnancies that the authorities deemed harmful to their fetuses.

Many of the cases involved women who took drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines during pregnancy. But they also included women who refused cesarean sections their doctors recommended — and, lately, women who took abortion pills they ordered online. Last September, I wrote about a mother in Pennsylvania, Jennifer Whalen, who went to prison for helping her 16-year-old daughter do that, even though it was a first-trimester abortion and the girl came to no harm. (Whalen has since been released.)

Patel’s case stands out, for the draconian length of the sentence she received, and for the disturbing image of a baby left in a Dumpster. But it is also part of a pattern. “This case shows how easy it is to sweep up women who’ve had miscarriages and stillbirths into a criminal justice framework,” Paltrow told me. For her, the key question is how to ensure that fewer women become as desperate as Patel must have been about her pregnancy. “Do you think these cases will be less rare if you terrify people and make them criminals?” she said.

Correction: April 2, 2015
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the text of Indiana’s law included the phrase “another’s pregnancy.” That phrase arose from legal interpretations of the statute, but it is not in the statute itself