Lecture series looks at ‘Community, Race, and Policing in America’
Does preventing small crimes — such as vandalism and public drinking — prevent more serious crimes from happening? Or does it contribute to the over-policing of America? And what effects do these criminal convictions have on communities?
These are the questions that will be examined in a St. Olaf College lecture series titled Community, Race, and Policing in America.
The series, hosted by the college’s new Institute for Freedom and Community, will bring three highly regarded academics to campus to discuss their research and engage in thoughtful conversation.
The first two lectures examine the “broken windows” theory of policing. The theory, co-authored by St. Olaf alumnus George Kelling ’56, uses the analogy of a broken window — “If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken”— to argue that preventing relatively minor crimes prevents more serious crimes from occurring.
The theory has come under sharp criticism recently from observers who think it has contributed to over-policing in America.
University of California, Santa Barbara Associate Professor of Sociology Victor Rios, the author of Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys, will deliver a lecture March 4 questioning the “broken windows” theory. He will discuss his research, which tracks the effects of policing and the criminal justice system on low-income young people of color.
Kelling, now a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, will deliver a lecture April 14 examining the “broken windows” strategy and its role in American policing. Kelling and others contend that it has led to crime reductions in New York and other places. He will develop the theory during his lecture and then invite questions.
In the third lecture — which is organized by Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society — Northwestern University Associate Professor of Political Science Traci Burch will examine the effects of the criminal justice system on low-income communities. Her April 20 lecture is titled The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment. Burch, who is also a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, is the author of the award-winning book Trading Democracy for Justice: Criminal Convictions and the Decline of Neighborhood Political Participation.