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Crime and Grime Over Two Decades: Stability, Decline, and Spatial Inequality in Charm City Neighborhoods

NCJ Number
Date Published
550 pages
Information from Baltimore was used to test the hypotheses that increasing physical and social disorder in a neighborhood will result, over time, in increasing crime, fear of crime, and structural decline, including declines in property values, the replacement of homeowners by renters, and increasing fear among residents.
The research used 22 years of crime statistics, 3 decades of census information, on-site assessments in 1981 and 1994, resident interviews in 1982 and 1994, and leader interviews in 1994. Results revealed some support for the broken windows/decline and disorder thesis. However, that support ranged from extremely weak to moderately strong, depending on the perspective used, the outcome considered, the type of disorder indicator used. Some crime changes were affected, as were changes in neighborhood status. Only one fear change measure was influenced; informal control and avoidance were not. Extremely strong connections existed between reactions to crime and disorder at the individual level, but not at the neighborhood level. The impacts of neighborhood status on later crime and structural changes were much stronger than the impacts of disorder. Thus, grime was relevant to later structural and crime changes, but not as broadly or as strongly as some have suggested; local attachment and reactions to crime are psychologically rather than ecologically driven. However, the extremely strong impacts of neighborhood status on later crime and decline indicate the need to combine efforts to address grime and crime with fundamental community infrastructural redevelopment, as has occurred in the Sandtown-Winchester demonstration project. Tables, figures, appended methodological information, and chapter reference lists

Date Published: January 1, 1996