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SOC316 Week 1 Reading.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Zachary Levinsky

American Crime Prevention: Trends and New Frontiers Amie M. Schuck Introduction  America witnessed major decline in crime over past several decades.  Most agree that this is caused by crime reduction policies, such as policing initiatives, increased incarceration, gun control tactics, youth substance abuse and violent prevention strategies, have played a significant role.  Importance of crime prevention efforts are now being recognized.  Policy makers continue to promote the use of crime prevention programs, particularly those that are evidence based or knowledge based.  However, national economic difficulties lead to worries that crime prevention programs will lose important financial support.  Many fear that removing resources from prevention efforts will leave a legacy of escalating crime and violence problems for future generations to handle.  After decades, crime prevention strategies are becoming a part of public policy.  However, there is still uncertainty about the form, function, and emphasis of prevention programs.  In the past, prevention efforts have used techniques of surveillance and incapacitation and focused primarily on guns, gangs, and drugs.  Now, a more conservative climate combined with fear of terrorism and declining sources of revenue, has caused a renewed emphasis on surveillance and incapacitation.  In America, there is no specific agency responsible for crime prevention, or even a national crime prevention agenda instead, it is incident driven.  In America, the themes of information integration systems and prevention technology, law enforcement partnerships, and targeted interventions dominate the discourse onAmerican crime prevention.  It is unlikely that current crime trends will continue, despite evidence accumulated over the past few decades of the importance of evidence-based crime prevention efforts because there is still enormous pressure to go back to the old- fashioned logic of deterrence and punishment.  This article discusses current trends inAmerican crime prevention and indicates 3 overarching themes that dominate the discourse on crime prevention: o Tremendous new emphasis on information sharing and crime prevention technology  September 11 terrorist attacks dramatically changed the landscape of the criminal justice community: resources and funding were reallocated and government agencies reorganized  Throughout these transitions and changes, there has been a consistent message – the need for better information sharing  In this area, there is little distinction between terrorists who threaten national security and criminals who threaten public safety  Also, increased emphasis on prevention technology has led to the development of technology to detect weapons of mass destruction  The development and application of such technologies to other areas of crime prevention, such as school safety, correctional settings, and drug detection, are also increasingly emphasized o Continued push to develop justice-related partnerships  Importance is being given to collaborations between justice organizations, particularly local and federal law enforcement agencies  Emphasis on partnership ties is related to the belief that a combination of resources brought together by multiple organizations is better able to develop, implement, and oversee crime prevention efforts than any one particular organization alone o Given the current reality of declining economic resources, many justice organizations have been forced to prioritize their crime prevention efforts, targeting resources where they will have the greatest impact Information Sharing and Prevention Technology  These integrated justice information systems are designed to use technology to support the accurate and fast exchange of information among various divisions of the justice community  The goal has been to produce low-cost, high-performance systems that integrate information sharing horizontally (e.g., among agencies at a single level of government) and vertically (e.g., linking different levels of government together)  To meet the need for information sharing, the federal government has implemented a national criminal intelligence network, the Regional Information Sharing System Network (RISS.NET), to combine the FBI database with those of several other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security  Although this network is not viewed as a model for all future justice information integration, it is a first step towards a national integrated justice information sharing network  As justice information sharing systems flourish, the challenge remains how to harness the information more effectively for better crime prevention  Some critics are there is a concern regarding the ability of the government officials to develop data sharing technology while still ensure the privacy of citizens’information o For example: The MultistateAnti-Terrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX) project, which has received much negative attention because it gathers information from a broad range of public and private sources, including criminal histories, marriage and divorce records, property ownership records, and financial data. Such systems often go beyond their intended purpose and are potentially dangerous and can lead to wrongful arrest and employment discrimination through inaccuracies Biometrics: Moving beyond fingerprints  Defined as “any automatically measur
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