American Crime Prevention: Trends and New Frontiers

Article excerpt

La prevention du crime est a la croisee des chemins aux Etats-Unis. Apres des decennies d'efforts couronnes de succes, la prevention est entree dans les moeurs en Amerique, et les strategies de prevention commencent a faire partie integrante des politiques gouvernementales. Neanmoins, il reste encore beaucoup d'incertitude relativement a la forme, au fonctionnement et au contenu des programmes de prevention. Dans le passe, les initiatives de prevention misaient sur les techniques de surveillance et de neutralisation, et privilegiaient essentiellement la lutte contre les armes, les gangs et les drogues. Au cours des dix dernieres annees, des formes de prevention plus novatrices ont ete incorporees dans les politiques publiques. Toutefois, le conservatisme ambiant, combine a la peur du terrorisme et a la rarefaction des sources de revenu, favorise le retour a la surveillance et a la neutralisation. Comme il n'y a pas d'organisme responsable en propre de la prevention du crime aux Etats-Unis, ni meme un programme national de lutte contre le crime, l'action en la matiere se fait au coup par coup dans ce pays. A l'heure actuelle, les themes qui dominent le discours americain sur la prevention du crime sont ceux des systemes d'integration de l'information et de la technologie de prevention, des partenariats entre organismes charges de l'application de la loi, des interventions ciblees. En revanche, il est peu probable que les tendances actuelles de la criminalite se maintiennent. Malgre les quantites impressionnantes de donnees probantes accumulees ces dernieres decennies a l'appui de l'utilite des initiatives de prevention du crime, les pressions en faveur du retour a la logique desuete de la dissuasion et de la punition sont encore enormes.)

Introduction

As Americans looks forward in the twenty-first century, the future is filled with considerable uncertainty. The war in the Middle East, the fear of terrorism, the fragile economy, the outsourcing of American jobs, and the rising costs of health care dominate public discourse. For the first time in 10 years, crime is not among the top concerns of the American people. This change is not surprising, given that Americans have witnessed a major national decline in crime over the past several decades. Violent crime, violence in families, violence among youth, and property crime have all decreased dramatically. In fact, 2002 violent crime rates were among the lowest ever recorded by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2003), and property crime rates were half of what they were 20 years ago and even lower than those reported by some Western European countries and Australia (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2002).

Although there is some disagreement about what has caused the dramatic decline in crime, most agree that specific crime reduction policies, such as policing initiatives, increased incarceration, gun control tactics, and youth substance abuse and violence prevention strategies, have played a significant role (Travis and Waul 2002). The impact and importance of crime prevention efforts are now being recognized. Research conducted by several scholars, including research on promising crime prevention practices by Lawrence Sherman (Sherman, Gottfredson, MacKenzie, Eck, Reuter, and Bushway 1997), partnerships and problem-solving by Dennis Rosenbaum (Coldren, Costello, Forde, Roehl, and Rosenbaum 2002), causes and correlates of juvenile delinquency by David Huizinga, Rolf Loeber, and Terence Thornberry (Causes and Correlates of Delinquency n.d.), and the Blueprints for Violence Prevention initiative (Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence n.d.) have had a significant impact on crime prevention practice and policy. Policy makers continue to promote the use of crime prevention programs, particularly those that are evidence based or knowledge based. The picture of success, however, is not entirely positive. National economic difficulties have led to worries that crime prevention programs will lose important financial support. …