Banishment in Public Housing: Testing an Evolution of Broken Windows
Banishment policies grant police the authority to formally ban individuals from entering public housing and arrest them for trespassing if they violate the ban. Despite its widespread use and the social consequences resulting from it, an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of banishment has not been performed. Understanding banishment enforcement is an evolution of broken windows policing, this study explores how effective bans are at reducing crime in public housing. We analyze crime data, spanning the years 2001–2012, from six public housing communities and 13 surrounding communities in one southeastern U.S. city. Using Arellano-Bond dynamic panel models, we investigate whether or not issuing bans predicts reductions in property and violent crimes as well as increases in drug and trespass arrests in public housing. We find that this brand of broken windows policing does reduce crime, albeit relatively small reductions and only for property crime, while resulting in an increase in trespass arrests. Given our findings that these policies have only a modest impact on property crime, yet produce relatively larger increases in arrests for minor offenses in communities of color, and ultimately have no significant impact on violent crime, it will be important for police, communities, and policy makers to discuss whether the returns are worth the potential costs.