ON-Lion Letter
For its 150th-anniversary issue, The Atlantic magazine asked an eclectic group of intellectuals who have had cause to consider "the American idea" to describe its future and the greatest challenges to it.  In their contributionBradley Prize recipient James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling revisit the "broken-windows" concept that they first took up in an Atlantic cover story 25 years ago.

"In 1982, we argued in this magazine that the police should take public disorder as seriously as they take criminal conduct," write Wilson and Kelling.

Wilson is the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. 

Kelling is a professor at the Rutgers-Newark School of Criminal Justice and a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City, which The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports.  With funding from Bradley, Kelling is also currently advising Milwaukee law-enforcement policymakers about successful crime-reduction strategies and tactics.

"Community order, we argued, would bring decent people back on the streets and discourage criminals from using public places," Wilson and Kelling continue. 
"[C]ertain types of crimes (assault, robbery, and auto theft), therefore, would subsequently decline."

After noting that the evidence supports a connection between order and crime-reduction, they conclude, "Decency in public places may be only a small part of the American idea, but especially for those people living in dangerous, gang-ridden neighborhoods, it is an important one."
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