3 Zero tolerance

Zero tolerance

Zero tolerance policies are studied in criminology and are common in formal and informal policing systems around the world.Fact|date=December 2007 The policies also appear in informal situations where there may be sexual harassment or Internet misuse in educational and workplace environments.Fact|date=December 2007

History and etymology

The concept of "Zero Tolerance" (1994) [Kelling, G.L., Julian, M. and Miller, S., (1994) "Managing ‘Squeegeeing’: a problem solving exercise", New York: NYPD.] [Dennis and Erdos ( 2005, p. 231 ) say that the 1994 report by Kelling "et al", was possibly "the first to use theterm ‘no tolerance’—soon to become ‘zero tolerance’"] originates in the 'broken window' theory of crime (1982), of which inherits the same underlying assumptions,Wacquant, Loïc (1999)] Marshall 1999, p.2] Tonello (2007)] and which in turn was inspired by the "Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Act", approved in New Jersey in 1973.

In 1982, conservatives James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, formulated their theory in the article "Broken Windows",Wilson and Kelling (1982)] published in "The Atlantic Monthly". The "Atlantic Monthly" was not a scientific journal of criminology, which would have applied peer review, but instead a cultural weekly of large circulation.

The title of the article comes from the following example:

cquote|Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

According to scholars, zero tolerance is the concept of giving "carte blanche" to the police for the inflexible repression of minor offences, homeless people and the disorders associated with them."anti-social behaviours associated with the homeless" as in Kelling's own terminology] A well known criticism to this approach is that it redefines social problems in terms of security, [Wacquant, Loïc (1999): "une comparaison méthodique montrerait tout de suite que la prétendue « montée inexorable » des « violences urbaines » est avant tout une thématique politico-médiatique visant à faciliter la redéfinition des problèmes sociaux en termes de sécurité", eng: "A comparison would show immediately that the so-called "inexorable rise" of the "urban violence" is first and foremost a political-media theme aimed at facilitating the redefinition of social problems in terms of security"] it considers the poor as criminals, and it reduces crimes to only "street crimes", those committed by lower social classes, excluding white-collar crimes.Wacquant, Loïc (2002)]

On the historical examples of the application of "zero tolerance" kind of policies, all the scientific studies conclude that it didn't play a leading role in the reduction of crimes, a role which is instead claimed by its advocates. In New York, the decline of crimes rate started well before Rudolf Giuliani came to power, in 1993, and none of the decreasing processes had particular inflection under him. [Fagan "et al" (1998)] In the same period of time, the decrease in crime was the same in the other major US cities, even those with an opposite security policy; finally, in the years 1984-7 New York already experienced a policy similar to Giuliani's one, but it faced a crime increase instead.

Two of the best American specialists, Edward Maguire, an Administration of Justice Professor at George Mason University, and John Eck from the University of Cincinnati, rigorously evaluated all the scientific work designed to test the efficiency of the police in the fight against crime. They concluded that "neither the number of policemen engaged in the battle, or internal changes and organizational culture of law enforcement agencies (such as the introduction of community policing) have by themselves impact on the evolution of offenses." [Eck and Maguire (2000)]

The crime decrease was due not the work of the police and judiciary, but to economic and demographic factors. The main ones were an unprecedented economic growth with jobs for millions of young people, and a shift from the use of crack towards other drugs. [Bowling (1999)]

Since the original 1973 program had a positive impact on the citizens, who were left with the false impression it had improved their safety, the program has been described as a public relation policy instead of a safety one.

Theoretical considerations

The conceptual rationale for zero tolerance emerges from a reaction against classical utilitarianism. Jeremy Bentham had argued that penalties should be graduated so that the degree of pain threatened by the penal system would act as a deterrent by matching or exceeding the gain that might be derived from the proposed crime. At the time, capital punishment was a normative penalty. This had arisen because legislators were frustrated that less severe penalties did not seem to deter criminal behavior. Penalties were therefore raised incrementally until even relatively minor thefts were punishable by death. Bentham argued that a combination of additional resources to improve policing and a scaled reduction in penalties would achieve better results.

In modern times, sentencing has become politicized as the Neo-Classical School and Right Realism have argued for a reduction in the discretion allowed to courts to adopt a "just deserts" approach. Rather, the judges should be constrained to impose more severe penalties in a more mechanical system which pays less regard to the question of individualized justice. The intention is to use the sentence imposed on every convicted person as a warning to others (see Rational Choice Theory). The news media give maximum coverage to "crime" and the "policies" for its control (see moral panic), and victimology has been included in the general political pressure for law enforcement agencies and the courts to take a firmer line. In parallel, criminologists and government advisers such as James Q. Wilson (see quality of life and Fixing Broken Windows) claim that by changing the physical environment and reducing opportunities to offend, there can be crime prevention through environmental design as a part of Environmental Criminology. An alternative set of strategies is offered by Left Realism.

Areas of application

The term is also used in the context of driving under the influence of alcohol, referring to a lower illegal blood alcohol content for drivers under the age of 21.Fact|date=December 2007 In the U.S., the legal limit in all states is now .08%, but for drivers under 21 the prohibited level in most states is .01% or .02%.

Zero tolerance and narcotics

Japan and Sweden have applied zero tolerance for illicit drugs at the same time as they have few people in prison and low total prevalence of drug use. [ [http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/speech/un2005/un0510-15.html Mr. Makoto Hashizume Delegation of Japan, 2005] ] Sweden is with its aim for a "drug-free society" a prominent example when it comes to implementing zero tolerance on drug use. A study have shown the police's actions against street-level drug crimes to have a preventative effect on overall drug use. [Citation | last = Knutsson | first = Johannes | contribution = Swedish drug markets and drug policy | journal = Crime Prevention Studies | volume = 11 | editor-last = Natarajan | editor-first = Mangai | editor2-last = Hough | editor2-first = Mike | title = Illegal Drug Markets | publisher = Criminal Justice Press | publisher-place = Monsey, New York | pages = 179-201 | year = 2000 | url = http://www.popcenter.org/library/crimeprevention/volume_11/08-Knutsson.pdf | id = ISBN: 1-881798-25-9 ] UNODC recognized this in a special report hailing Sweden's drug policy in 2007. [ [http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsid=19746&cr=unodc&cr1= Sweden’s drug control policies model for other States – UN official] ] [ [http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/Swedish_drug_control.pdf UNODC: Sweden's successful drug policy, 2007] ] Life-time prevalence and regular drug use among students and among the general population are considerably lower than in the rest of Europe and lower than in United States.

However, this does not reflect itself in the amount of so called problem drug users - a statistical concept used by EMCDDA - where Sweden is closer to average level in EU. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) noted in its 2001 report in a chapter on problem drug use - in the report defined as injecting drug use and/or long-duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines - that "countries with more liberal drug policies (such as the Netherlands) and those with a more restrictive approach (such as Sweden) have not very different prevalence rates, the impact of national drug policies (more liberal versus more restrictive approaches) on the prevalence of drug use and especially problem drug use remains unclear.". [ [http://ar2001.emcdda.europa.eu/ 2001 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the European Union online] by [http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/ EMCDDA] ] [Gouverneur, Cedric (2002) " [http://mondediplo.com/2002/03/15drug The European market - The heroin route from Afghanistan to Europe] "]

Law enforcement in the United States

The terminology is most commonly used to describe the allocation of additional resources to combat identified crimes in particular geographical locations or for particular purposes. Hence, extra police patrols are deployed in known hot spots where prostitution and drug dealing are problems for local residents, specialized police units monitor the behavior of repeat offenders on the streets, and on-scene arrests in incidents of domestic violence are all claimed to be effective in reducing crime. According to Sherman (1997), those that do not work include: neighborhood watch programs organized with police; arrests of juveniles for minor offenses; arrests of unemployed suspects for domestic assault; increased arrests or raids on drug market locations; storefront police offices in high crime locations; and police newsletters with local crime information. Those that appear promising, defined by the authors as "programs for which the level of certainty is too low to make firm conclusions, but for which based on the limited evidence there is some reason to expect some successful reduction in crime," include: proactive drunk driving arrests with breath testing may reduce accident deaths; Community policing with meetings to set priorities may reduce perceptions of crime; police showing greater respect to arrested offenders may reduce repeat offending; polite field interrogations of suspicious persons may reduce street crime; making arrest warrants to domestic violence suspects who leave the scene before police arrive may reduce domestic violence; higher number of police officers in cities may reduce crime; and gang monitoring by community workers and probation and police officers may reduce gang violence. Note that friendly or cordial policing appears to be effective at reducing recidivism risks for some serious crimes.


"Zero tolerance" policing violates the Law Enforcement Code of Conduct passed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which says in part: "The fundamental duties of a police officer include serving the community, safeguarding lives and property, protecting the innocent, keeping the peace and ensuring the rights of all to liberty, equality and justice" (cited in Robinson, 2002). This code requires that police behave in a courteous and fair manner, that they treat all citizens in a respectable and decent manner, and that they never use unnecessary force. As Robinson (2002: 206) explains:It has been argued that zero tolerance policing will fail because its practice is alleged to destroy several important requisites for successful community policing: namely police accountability, openness to the public, and community cooperation (Cox and Wade 1998: 106).

Opponents of Zero Tolerance believe that such a policy neglects investigation on a case-by-case basis and may lead to unreasonably harsh penalties for crimes that may not warrant such penalties in reality. Another criticism of zero tolerance policies is that it makes no room for lack of judgement. For example, a crime enforced under zero tolerance rules may not make any excuses for someone who committed the crime under physical duress or insanity, and may simply ask the question "Did this person commit this crime: Yes or no?" Proponents might argue this is exactly the point; if the person commits the crime then they should receive their punishment.

ee also

* Blue-collar crime
* Bob Kiley
* Community policing
* Crime mapping
* Ray Mallon
* Tolerance



*Bowling, B. (1999) " [http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/39/4/531 The rise and fall of New York murder: zero tolerance or crack's decline?] " vol. 39, no. 4 (1999): 531-554.
*Cox, S. & J. Wade. (1998). "The Criminal Justice Network: An Introduction". New York: McGraw-Hill.
*Dennis, Norman; Erdos, George (2005) " [http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/cs38.pdf Cultures and Crimes] ", cap. 13 Dealing with Diversity: Libertarianism and Multiculturalism pp.169-183 ISBN 1-903 386-38-1
*Eck, John E.; [http://www.gmu.edu/depts/pia/adj/faculty/biomaguire.shtml Maguire, Edward R.] (2000) "Have Changes in Policing Reduced Violent Crime?", pp. 207-265 in " [http://books.google.com/books?id=PtX8wtVB2A4C The Crime Drop in America] ", edited by Alfred Blumstein and Joel Wallman. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2000.
*Fagan, Jeffrey; Franklin Zimring et June Kim, " [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0091-4169(199822)88%3A4%3C1277%3ADHINYC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-D Declining Homicide in New York City : A Tale of Two Trends] ", Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 88-4, été 1998, pp. 1277-1324.
*Marshall, Jayne (1999) " [http://www.ocsar.sa.gov.au/docs/information_bulletins/IB9.pdf Zero Tolerance Policing] ". South Australia Office of Crime, Issue 9 March 1999.
*Robinson, M. (2002). "Justice Blind? Ideals and Realities of American Criminal Justice". Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
*Sherman, L., D.; Gottfredson, D; MacKenzie, J; Eck, P; Reuter & Bushway, S. (1997). "Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising." [http://www.ncjrs.org/works/]
*Snider, Laureen. (2004) "Zero Tolerance Reversed: Constituting the Non-Culpable Subject in Walkerton" in "What is a Crime? Defining Criminal Conduct in Contemporary Canadian Society". Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, and Montreal: Laval University Press (French translation), 2004: 155-84.
*Tonello, Fabrizio (2007) "Così negli Usa è fallita la Tolleranza zero" [eng.: "So Zero Tolerance failed in the US"] published by "il manifesto" 31 August 2007, p.5 [http://www.feltrinellieditore.it/FattiLibriInterna?id_fatto=8919] [http://www.peacelink.it/mediawatch/a/23049.html] [http://filcamstn.blogspot.com/2007/08/usatolleranza-zero-un-fallimento.html] it icon
*Wacquant, Loïc (1999) " [http://pagespro-orange.fr/tansen/bioethics/society/zerotol.htm Penal ’common sense’ comes to Europe - US exports zero tolerance] " [http://mondediplo.com/1999/04/02zero] April 1999 Le Monde Diplomatique. ( [http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/1999/04/WACQUANT/11910 original french version] , [http://www.monde-diplomatique.it/LeMonde-archivio/Aprile-1999/pagina.php?cosa=9904lm01.02.html ita version] )
*Wacquant, Loïc (November 1999) "Prisons of Poverty"
*Wacquant, Loïc (2002) " [http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2002/05/WACQUANT/16519 Sur quelques contes sécuritaires venus d’Amérique - Les impasses d’un modèle répressif] " fr icon May 2002 Le Monde Diplomatique. ( [http://www.monde-diplomatique.it/LeMonde-archivio/Maggio-2002/pagina.php?cosa=0205lm20.01.html ita version] )
*cite web | url= http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/_atlantic_monthly-broken_windows.pdf
author = Wilson, James Q.; Kelling, George L.
title= Broken Windows: The police and neighborhood safety
publisher= The Atlantic Monthly, March 1982
accessdate= 2007-09-03

External links

* [http://criminology.utoronto.ca/library/zerotol.htm Zero tolerance policing: a select bibliography] . University of Toronto, Criminology Information Service, 2004.

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  • zero tolerance — The policy of applying laws or penalties to even minor infringements of a code in order to reinforce its overall importance and enhance deterrence. Dictionary from West s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. zero tolerance …   Law dictionary

  • zero tolerance — n [U] a way of dealing with crime in which every person who breaks the law, even in a very small way, is punished as severely as possible ▪ a policy of zero tolerance in inner city areas …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • zero tolerance — If the police have a zero tolerance policy, they will not overlook any crime, no matter how small or trivial …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • zero tolerance — noun uncount a policy of punishing people for even very minor offenses by using the law in a very strict way …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • zero tolerance — ► NOUN ▪ strict enforcement of the law regarding any form of anti social behaviour …   English terms dictionary

  • Zero Tolerance — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Tolérance zéro (homonymie). Zero Tolerance Éditeur Accolade Développeur Technopop Date de sortie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zero Tolerance — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Zero Tolerance Zeugen in Angst Originaltitel Noll tolerans …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • zero tolerance — noun extreme intolerance of antisocial behavior (usually by an uncompromising application of the law) he urged zero tolerance for priests who abuse children sexually • Hypernyms: ↑intolerance * * * noun [noncount] : a policy of giving the most… …   Useful english dictionary

  • zero tolerance —    If the police have a zero tolerance policy, they will not overlook any crime, no matter how small or trivial.   (Dorking School Dictionary)    ***    If an activity or a certain type of behaviour is given zero tolerance, it will not be… …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

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