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evaluation of the police and courts.docx

Course Code
SOC 3730
Sarah Ciotti

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Courts and Society
The Effect of Urban Neighborhood Disorder on Evaluations of the Police and Courts
Are people dissatisfied with the courts as well as the police when they perceive high levels of disorder in
their neighborhoods? Consistent with previous research, this study, using a representative sample of
Canadian adults, demonstrates that people are significantly more negative about the police when they
perceive high levels of disorder. They are not, however, more negative toward the courts when
confronted with these social problems. It is possible that they have heard the police rhetoricnamely,
that the police form the “thin blue line” between order and chaos. Although the public holds the police
and the courts responsible for increasing rates of crime, victimization, and fear, they do not see the
courts as being responsible for neighborhood disorder, which they see as being the sole responsibility of
the police.
Neighborhood Disorder
o Disorder encompasses a grey area of behaviors that are not necessarily criminal ex. noisy
neighbors, garbage, poorly maintained buildings, and groups of people “hanging out” on street
o 2 types of disorder
Physical: physical disorder refers to ongoing condition
Social: appears as a series of more-or-less episodic events
o Skogan Study: asks respondents how much of a problem they think these types of disorder are-
those who thought that physical disorder and social disorder were neighborhood problems were
more likely to be fearful in their neighborhoods and report crime as being a problem
people infer that there are crime problems in disorderly areas and thus may feel fearful
of being victimized
suggests this can lead to further deterioration of a neighbourhood
o The more the presence of disorder, the more fearful people are
o Sampson and Raudenbush found that, although people link disorder and crime problems,
disorder may not be indicative of serious crime problems or victimization
o The link between perceived disorder and perceived crime is important because the criminal
justice system- the police and courts- often takes responsibility for levels of crime in a
Courts are responsible for sentencing, incapacitation and deterrence and have a main
goal of protecting the public. Disorder is seen as their failure to do so
Neighborhood Disorder and the Evaluation of Police and Courts
o Relationships have been found between perceptions of disorder and views of police ex.
Interviews reveal those who perceive high levels of disorder in their neighbourhood are more
likely to make negative comments about the police and have less confidence in their ability to
respond and control crime and safety
o Other studies have not found the same relationship
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