Programs for preventing crimes have existed in the US for many years. The designs of the programs are based on the understanding that crime prevention should be proactive instead of being reactive. Programs on crime are designed to influence the quality of life in the society and to ensure that the environment in our communities does not provide opportunity, ability and the desire to commit a crime. The common crime programs include community policing, educational and drug prevention, deterrence and rehabilitation programs. This paper explores the impact of the listed programs on crime.
Historical Background of the Programs
The history of community crime prevention dates back to many years. However, documented crime prevention programs started in the 18th century in England when Henry Fielding, a playwright, and novelist mobilized citizens to address the root cause of crime and apprehend criminals (Chicago Area Project, n.d.). In the United States of America, the idea that citizens could participate in non-punitive programs to prevent crime started in 1930. Scholars from Chicago School of Sociology argued that the structural forces that operate in families and neighborhoods were the main causes of crime. Their work and views led to researches that found that poor socialization of urban children predisposed them to criminal opportunities (Chicago Area Project, n.d.). For example, lack of structured activities for the young people put them at greater risk of engaging in criminal tendencies compared to their counterparts who engaged in structured activities. In order to address the issue, commissions for crime preventions were formed to devise measures to address crime in cities and urban slums.
Organizational and Operational Structure
The operational and the organizational structure of the preventive crime programs differ depending on the issue being addressed. The inclusion of people to participate in the program activities is normally based on collaboration of key stakeholders in the society. This includes the community, professionals, the police, religious leaders, schools, justice system, government officials, and social community workers (Clarke, 2009). Thus, the programs should integrate people and institutions that are in direct contact with the people who are likely to engage in criminal behaviors. For example, in order to reduce the delinquency among the young people, community leaders and institutions that shape the lives of the young people should be part of the programs. Crimes take place at the community level; thus, the community members are better placed to understand the issues that lead to crimes (Weisburd, 2010).
Chicago Area Project (n.d.) established that immediate and wider social circles that exist within communities have a great role in imparting conventional values to their members. The operational structure for the preventive programs entails participation of all members in decision making and the execution of the mandates.
The designs and the organization of programs have changed over time. The traditional practices entailed the use of social experts as the main organizational components of the programs. In addition, the implementation of the programs was not backed by adequate data.
Innovations and use of Technology
In the contemporary times, technology has been embraced. Technology can be applied in different ways to enhance the implementation of a program that prevent crime. According to Byrne and Marx (2011), technology and innovations help in the creation of partnership initiatives. In addition, they assist in the implementation of organizational changes that are supposed to ensure change. For example, information systems are used to supply timely data on the progress of a program. It is easy to develop databases of problem-solving initiatives. The information system allows people to share information and experience and provide up to date happenings.
Critical Examination of Researches
Many studies have been undertaken to determine the impact of various programs that are meant to deter crime. Boisjoli, Vitaro, Lacourse, Barker, and Tremblay (2007) carried a study to examine the impact of rehabilitation programs. In a case evaluation of the treatment of young substance abusers, the treatment was found to reduce the rates of recidivism. The study established that rehabilitation is less expensive compared to imprisoning of the substance abusers and offenders. In the investigation of the impact of programs related to crime prevention, Welsh and Farrington (2010) expressed that crime is an art and can be evaluated using scientific programs. Welsh and Farrington (2010) found that some programs worked, others were promising while others did not meet the expectations. These findings show that preventive programs play a critical role in the prevention of the crimes.
Weaknesses and strengths
The analysis of most programs is by the use of scientific methods that are contextual. This ensures that systematic analysis is achieved. Scientific methods have a definite procedure. Based on the analysis of the impacts of the programs, Boisjoli, et al. (2007) noted that most of the programs achieve their goals when subjected to process evaluation. The main limitation is that the programs focus on the processes and hence negate other aspects of program. For example, the programs mainly focus on the process and fail to consider other parameters of the programs such as the outcomes.
Evaluations, Theory and Innovations, alternatives and Impact
The federal government funds most of the programs on crime. The main type of evaluation for the programs is normally the process evaluation. Process evaluation describes the activities that were carried out or are being undertaken rather than the impact of the programs on crime. The process evaluations provide data on the logic and strategies applied but do not provide evidence on whether the programs work to prevent crime. An alternative will be to have interventions that use both the process and impact assessments to gather credible evidence on the processes and the outcome of the projects.
The implementation of the programs is mainly based on the situational theory. Situational theory stipulates that crime is normally opportunistic. This implies that offenders engage in criminal behavior due to the opportunities presented by the environment (Clarke, 2009). According to Clarke (2009) prevention of crimes can be achieved by the manipulation of the environment. The aim of the approach is to influence the offender’s perception of increased risk and decreased reward of engaging in crime.
Educational and drug prevention programs, community policing, deterrence and rehabilitation programs have been used as a means to deter crime. The implementation of the programs has mainly been based on situational approaches. The reason behind the approach is to ensure that the environment is adjusted to reduce the opportunity for engaging in crime. This is attained by changing the physical and social environments. The evaluation of the program has mainly been process, which has not been able to provide evidence on the impacts of the programs on crime. This makes it difficult to determine the actual impact of the programs. Thus, the future of the preventive programs should be based on both process and outcome evaluation.
Boisjoli, R., Vitaro, F., Lacourse, E., Barker, D., & Tremblay, E. (2007). Impact and clinical significance of a preventive intervention for disruptive boys. British Journal of Psychiatry, 191(1), 415-419.
Byrne, J., & Marx, G. (2011). Technological innovations in crime prevention and policing: A review of the research on implementation and impact. Journal of Police Studies, 20(3), 17-40.
Chicago Area Project. (n.d.). Prevention: Community Programs: The History of community crime prevention community programs. Web.
Clarke, R. (2009). Situational crime prevention: Theoretical background and current practice. New York: Springer.
Weisburd, D. (2010). Policing Problem Places: Crime Hot Spots and Effective Prevention. New York: Oxford University Press.
Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. (2010). The future of crime prevention: Developmental and situational strategies. New York: National Institute of Justice.