Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 9

Civil Remedies and Crime Prevention

Edited by Lorraine Green Mazerolle and Jan Roehl

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Civil Remedies and Crime Prevention: An Introduction
by Lorraine Green Mazerolle and Jan Roehl Social, Legal and Political Considerations
The Role of Civil Sanctions in Crime Control: A Socio-Legal Examination
by Sharyn L. Roach Anleu

This chapter examines the concept of social control in discussions of crime and deviance. Discussions of informal social control identified the ways in which the management of deviance emerged and was embedded in social relations' it was unplanned, unconscious, automatic, private, and often diffuse. This was then contrasted with formal social control, most closely associated with the criminal justice system which was planned, specific, public, and oriented to specific individuals for their punishment or rehabilitation. Many theorists (for example, Durkheim and Black) argue that normal social control will gradually take over more of the responsibility of crime control in contemporary society- Durkheim also points to the shift front repressive to restitutive law. Current interest in crime prevention again focuses on social relations as sources of crime management in addition to punishing offenders. Using civil sanctions (inducing insurance) to encourage, influence, require and even coerce people to modify what are perceived to be opportunities for crime commission is an example. Crime management is more indirect, more private and more diffuse, thus having similarities with earlier descriptions of informal social control. This chapter examines new developments in crime control, including the establishment of alternative tribunals that are less formal than criminal courts and that provide opportunities for community participation, mediation and negotiation; situational crime prevention initiatives; and the greater role of insurance.

Civil Remedies to Control Crime: Legal Issues and Constitutional Challenges
by Mary M. Cheh

The use of civil remedies by criminal justice officials to prevent or punish criminal behavior has grown rapidly in the U.S. in recent years, in part because criminal remedies are often cumbersome, inefficient, and ineffective. Along with the increased use of civil remedies have come legal challenges. In this chapter, the workings of two of the most widely used civil tools - civil asset forfeiture and injunctive relief - are reviewed, followed by an analysis of the constitutional challenges each has faced. The principal legal assaults have involved procedural and substantive constitutional claims. The chief constitutional issues raised by anti-gang injunctions and other forms of injunctive relief are the proper scope of the orders entered and the procedures used to protect the enjoined party's rights. The U.S Supreme Court's ratings have resulted in some constitutional boundaries limiting the application of the two civil remedies, but with few exceptions the court has confirmed a relatively permissive approach to new uses of civil remedies to control crime. Officials have been left with enormous discretion to employ civil remedies creatively and expansively. As civil remedies proliferate, however, the challenge to maintain principles of fairness and sensitivity continues.

Regulating Opportunities: Multiple Roles for Civil Remedies in Situational Crime Prevention
by Martha J. Smith

This chapter attempts to provide a first step toward systematically examining the part that civil remedies can play in situational crime prevention First, it reviews the main features of the concept and uses the script analytic model to descri5e the mechanisms by which this approach seeks to prevent crime. The model is expanded to incorporate concepts useful far examining how situational controls are implemented. Second, two main roles for civil remedies in situational crime prevention are discussed. (1) a direct role in the implementation of situational controls as formal inducements for those who influence or control crime opportunities; and (2) an indirect role, either influencing the decisions of those who control crime opportunities or increasing the likelihood that potential offenders will perceive that situational controls have been implemented.

The Politics of Third-Party Policing
by Michael E. Buerger

The recent emphasis upon the use of civil remedies as a problem-solving tool for the police has emoted a new quasi-doctrine called "third-party policing." The concept refers to police insistence upon the involvement of non-offending third parties (usually place managers) in the control of criminal and disorderly behavior, creating a de facto new element of public duty. Police efforts may be opposed in a variety of different ways, many of which transpire in the political arena. With references to a formal, multi-agency city program (SMART in Oakland, CA), and using examples from a small start-up police initiative (RECAP in Minneapolis, MN), this chapter examines both individual and collective resistance to thud-party policing. Documented and potential forms of resistance are discussed, as are the political backdrops and mechanisms that lend themselves to each and the possible avenues by which police and city officials can overcome or thwart political interference.

Curtailing Youth: A Critique of Coercive Crime Prevention
by Robert White

This paper provides a critical renew of crime prevention measures involving coercive control over the activities, behaviors and public visibility of young people. Drawing on examples and trends in the U.S., Australia and the UK., the paper renews four major areas of coercive intervention in youthful activity: reconstructing of public space in ways that basically exclude and/or contain the young in particular ways, extending police powers in regulating the street life of young people; making use of youth curfews; and emphasizing the need for parents to police their offspring. It is argued that adoption of a developmental crime prevention strategy is both possible, and more desirable, than reliance on coercive measures.

Controlling Drug Problems

Controlling Social Disorder Using Civil Remedies: Results from a Randomized Field Experiment in Oakland, California
by Lorraine Green Mazerolle, Jan Roehl and Colleen Kadleck

This paper reports the results of a randomized field study conducted in Oakland, CA where civil remedies were used to target drug, crime and disorder problems in 50 "experimental" places; and traditional police tactics (surveillance, arrests, field interrogations) were used in 50 "control" places. Oakland's civil remedy program uses citations for building, health, sewer, sidewalk and rodent control code violations, drug nuisance abatement laws, and coercion of third parties (such as property owners, apartment superintendents, and business owners) to clean up blighted and drug nuisance places. On-site observations of social activity on the 100 face blocks in our study were used to measure changes in street behavior as a result of the interventions. Results reveal a decrease in drug dealing and a decline in signs of disorder on the Beat Health-targeted face blocks. We conclude that the Beat health program generally enhanced social conditions in the 50 experimental places.

Improving the Management of Rental Properties with Drug Problems: A Randomized Experiment
by John E. Eck and Julie Wartell

Theory and practice point to the link between place management and the likelihood of drug dealing and criminal behavior at places. Theory suggests that drug dealers select places that have weak management. In an experiment conducted in San Diego, CA, 121 rental properties that had already been the target of drug enforcement were randomly assigned to two approximately equal-size treatment groups, or to a control group that received no further police actions. One treatment group received a letter from the police describing the enforcement and offering assistance; the other met with a narcotics detective under threat of nuisance abatement. Results show more evictions of drug offenders for both treatment groups relative to the control group, but more evictions for the meeting group than the letter group. Property owners in the meeting group also had a sizeable reduction in reported crime within six months of the intervention. There is also some evidence in support of a crime reduction effect of the letters, but it is less conclusive. Implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.

More Effective Place Management: An Evaluation of Cook County's Narcotics Nuisance Abatement Unit
by Arthur J. Lurigio, et al.

This chapter describes an impact evaluation of the Narcotics Nuisance Abatement Unit (NNAU) of the Cook County (Chicago) States Attorneys Office (CCSAO). A central feature of the program is its emphasis on citizen and police cooperation in identifying properties on which drug sales are occurring. The program began in August 1990 and has become part of a community-based drug control strategy targeting buildings that are sites for drug trafficking or sales of drug paraphernalia. Neighborhood groups, police and other government agencies contact the program to make it aware of such nuisances. The NNAU employs three strategies: voluntary abatement, prosecutorial abatement and community outreach. The current chapter deals with the NNAUs effects on residents perceptions and on subsequent drug dealing. A survey of residents living on blocks with and without abatement actions produced no evidence that evictions had any impact on citizens perceptions of drug activity, other signs of disorder or feelings of safety on the block. Follow-up observations found no signs of drug dealing at eight of the ten abated buildings studied or on the blocks on which they were located.

The Cost-Effectiveness of Civil Remedies: The Case of Drug Control Interventions
by Jonathan P. Caulkins

Civil remedies allow an individual to coerce a third party into taking action against offenders who are imposing hardship on the individual initiating the remedy. Thus, there is a disjunction between the individual who initiates and benefits from a civil remedy and the entity that bears most of the cost of implementing the remedy. At their best, civil remedies can make negligent organizations responsive to the needs of the citizenry. At their worst, civil remedies allow individuals to hijack the resources of well-run and well-meaning organizations and force those resources to be used for private but not necessarily public benefit. This paper discusses the cost-effectiveness of civil remedies for drug control interventions. Given the paucity of evaluation data, it is not possible to provide a point estimate as to their average cost-effectiveness. However, a conceptual framework for understanding cost-effectiveness and rough rules of thumb for assessing the effectiveness of individual interventions are provided.

Community Perspectives

Civil Remedies for Controlling Crime: The Role of Community Organizations
by Jan Roehl

Over the past decade, community organizations and citizens have increasingly used civil remedies to compel non-offending third parties to take action to prevent or mitigate crime, drug and disorder problems in their neighborhoods. Nuisance and drug abatement ordinances and municipal codes are the most common civil laws employed by community organizations, which may or may not work in concert with law enforcement, prosecutors and other government agencies. While civil remedy strategies are not without problems, community organizations report general success in their use. In this chapter, the history of civil remedies used by community organizations is reviewed and the results of a national survey of community organizations are presented. The results include the characteristics of the respondent organizations, the types and prevalence of civil remedy strategies used, problems encountered and outcomes of the application of strategies.

A Co-Production Model of Code Enforcement and Nuisance Abatement
by Anne Blumenberg, Brenda Bratton Blom and Erin Artigiani

In Baltimore, MD, communities are reducing crime and grime and developing comprehensive strategies for community revitalization and reclamation using principles grounded in co-production the coordinated efforts of residents and government agencies, who share authority and responsibility for success. In the co-production model, community organizations take a very active role in deciding when to initiate legal action to abate a nuisance situation, defining the nature and source of the problems and developing a strategy to address the problems. Solutions typically require the extensive cooperation of local government as a partner in problem solving. In this chapter, the processes and the theoretical underpinnings of the co-production model of health and safety code enforcement are compared and contrasted to other service delivery models. Co-production strategies appear to be particularly appropriate in the areas of zoning, day care, local traffic regulation, park and recreation facility maintenance, and law enforcement and public safety. Like other forms of civil remedies, co-production strategies have the potential for both abusing the power the model provides and producing positive effects throughout the community.

What Do Landlords Think about Drug Abatement Laws?
by Barbara E. Smith and Robert C. Davis

Across the country, drug house abatement statutes have become a popular tool for reducing drug activities in targeted neighborhoods. These statues vary in content; in the types of civil or criminal penalties that apply; and in the type of administrative/ court proceedings and appeals available. Despite differences among the statutes, they share a common goal of ameliorating drug activity and holding landlords responsible for ridding their properties of drug dealers and customers. Rather than target drug sellers directly, drug house abatement programs target property owners in order to curb the activities of residents. In this chapter, we focus on the reactions of property owners to abatement actions, drawing data from interviews conducted in two major studies of drug house abatement efforts. Property owners favor the goals of abatement programs, but resent being targeted by authorities. We conclude that efforts are needed by local officials to enlist property owners to work cooperatively with them in order to solve common problems.

Civil Remedies in Public Housing

Getting Evicted from Public Housing: An Analysis of the Factors Influencing Eviction Decisions in Six Public Housing
by Justin Ready, Lorraine Green Mazerolle and Elyse Revere

Evictions, perhaps more than other civil remedies for controlling crime and disorder in public housing, have seized the attention of policy makers and housing directors during the 1990s. Nonetheless, public housing authorities have been slow to enforce the federal one strike policy, which grants site managers the authority to evict suspected offenders after an administrative hearing, without having to wait for a criminal conviction. This paper examines the effects of criminal and lease-violating behavior on evictions among residents living in six public housing developments in Jersey City, NJ after controlling for family characteristics. We examine, first, the structural and violation characteristics of a sample of households evicted in 1994 and 1995; second, whether evicted households differ significantly on various social dimensions using a random sample of households taken from the same population; and third, the relative importance of family, economic and lease-violating factors in predicting whether an eviction will result. The implications, based on a logistic regression model, point to the discretionary use of administrative and policy violation notices as a promising tool for dealing with problem apartments in public housing communities.

A Case for Partnership: The Local Authority Landlord and the Local Police
by Sheridan Morris

The partnership approach to crime reduction and antisocial behavior is now well-established in the academic literature and the operational reality of many agencies. A more recent, and still developing aspect of such initiatives in the U.K., is the use of civil statutes alongside criminal law to tackle criminal and nuisance behavior. This paper features two case studies that describe the use of two civil instruments, injunctions and evictions, and the joint police-housing department operations that utilized them. The creation of a housing Tenancy Enforcement Team in Gateshead, Newcastle, represented an innovative approach to the enforcement of housing department tenancy agreements. An initiative by the local police and Hackney Housing department in London involved a criminal investigation and the test use of local council legal powers. The development, process and impact of both initiatives are discussed. The cases suggest that the partnership approach can strengthen both criminal and civil actions through the exchange of information and mutual enforcement support.