The College Writing Exam (CWE)
Students are not awarded their degrees from Passaic County Community College until they successfully complete a two-hour essay examination near the end of their degree program. They are eligible to take the exam upon successful completion of Composition II and upon having attained at least half of the credits needed for graduation. The CWE is given several times in the fall, several times in the spring, and at least twice during the summer at both the Paterson and Wanaque campuses.
Students may register for a test date in the following ways:
Paterson Campus: Stop by room S206, E215 or A219
Wanaque Campus: See Kathy Coffey in room W128
Your registration information form will be handed to you with all the information you will need.
Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include:
Name, ID, Major, Phone Number, Date and Time for 1st and 2nd choice.
Your registration information form will be e-mailed to you with all the information you will need.
Students then go to room E215 (for Paterson) on the exam date, bringing with them a valid form of photo identification. They are given two topics from which to choose: one pertaining to their majors and a general topic. The results are sent to students within a few weeks of the test date. Students may attempt the examination more than once if necessary. Students who fail on their first attempt are required to arrange to work with a tutor in the Writing Center (A113) before signing up to take the exam again.
Students are strongly advised to take the CWE before their final semester. Otherwise, failure on the exam would cause at least a one-semester delay in graduating.
Practice is always encouraged, but particularly for those students who let more than a semester pass between Composition II and taking the CWE. Sample topics and a practice module are available both online and in Wanaque Campus.
APPROACHING THE TOPIC: STEP 1
When writing an assigned essay, the first thing you must thoroughly understand is the topic. Look at the topic carefully to determine exactly what it is asking you to do.
For example: EMPLOYMENT IS A MAJOR CONCERN FOR MOST GRADUATING COLLEGE STUDENTS. WHAT WILL YOU BE ABLE TO OFFER AN EMPLOYER WHEN YOU BEGIN TO LOOK FOR A JOB?
Notice that the emphasis is on YOU in this essay. This means that the topic is asking the writer to respond directly to the topic in a personal way. The writer of this essay would begin by using the first person pronoun "I" somewhere in the first paragraph.
A sample opening sentence might read: "When I begin looking for a job, I will be able to offer an employer three important things."
Here’s another example: Some people point to the very high divorce rate as an indication that marriage is becoming unnecessary; in what ways do you agree or disagree with that idea?
HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH THIS TOPIC?
Practice writing your approach on a separate piece of paper.
The proper way of handling this topic is to respond to the "idea" that marriage is becoming unnecessary, and not to the idea that divorce rates are high. The divorce rate issue might be used only to support the idea of marriage becoming unnecessary. It is asking you to take a position, a stance, or an outlook on this issue. Your next step will be to defend whatever position you take. Many topics are like this one in that they want you to take a side.
THIS IS CALLED AN ARGUMENT, and you’d be writing an argumentative essay. This type of essay is not to be confused with yelling or fighting. It’s not that kind of argument. In this kind of argument, you’ll be fighting for your ideas.
REVIEW OF STEP ONE:
First, read the topic carefully. Then analyze what it is asking you to write by getting to the heart of the question. Don’t be fooled by introductory phrases or fancy wording. Get the essential point.
HERE IS A LIST OF PRACTICE TOPICS:
- By this time you have been enrolled in a great many classes throughout your schooling. Based on your experience, discuss the qualities of excellence in teaching.
- We often read about famous people whose private lives differ greatly from their public image. In what ways do you appear differently to different people such as friends, family, teachers or employers?
- By this time, you have been a student for many years. Discuss two or three rights which you believe every student should have.
- Work and play are important to all of us. Discuss what you believe is a good combination of the two.
- Today, there is a serious unemployment problem. In what way can someone who is unemployed improve his or her situation?
- As a deterrent to serious crime, do you believe that a law banning all handguns would help to reduce the use of illegal weapons that are so prevalent in today’s homicides and robberies?
CHOOSE ONE OF THE TOPICS ABOVE AND READ IT OVER CAREFULLY; THEN DECIDE WHAT IT IS ASKING YOU TO WRITE ABOUT. YOU’RE READY TO BEGIN STEP 2 – LIMITING THE TOPIC.
Let’s go back to our first example.
EMPLOYMENT IS A MAJOR CONCERN FOR MOST GRADUATING COLLEGE STUDENTS; WHAT WILL YOU BE ABLE TO OFFER AN EMPLOYER WHEN YOU BEGIN TO LOOK FOR A JOB?
We began by limiting the topic in this way: "When I begin to look for a job, I will be able to offer an employer three important things."
Is this narrow enough, or is it still too broad? Can you limit your topic even further? (The student is asked to limit the topic further in space provided.)
By limiting the topic sufficiently, you create a THESIS STATEMENT. A well- developed thesis sentence enables you to go about writing your essay.
Don’t be put off by the term THESIS. It’s just a term used to describe a sentence that contains the main idea of the essay. It’s the topic sentence for the entire essay.
It gives you, the writer, a handle on the topic. It’s hard to hold things without a handle. The thesis holds the essay’s idea(s) together, and lets you write your essay within its limits. More about this later.
Let’s go back to the topic you were writing.
If you were able to limit the topic some more, you probably mentioned three of the "things," such as skills, that you would be able to offer an employer.
FOR EXAMPLE: When I begin to look for a job after I graduate from college, I’ll be able to offer an employer my knowledge of computers, my expertise in writing, and my ability to work well with others.
This type of detailed sentence lets you go on to develop each item of the thesis in a separate paragraph.
This next part of the essay is called the BODY.
The body of the essay is nothing more than an expansion of what was developed in the introduction.
In it, you include specific examples, concrete details, facts, personal experience and other relevant information that SUPPORTS your thesis and topic.
STAY ON THE TOPIC!
One of the major pitfalls for essay writers is wandering off the topic onto something else.
If you started out by writing an essay on what you would be able to offer an employer after college and ended up somewhere in the middle discussing the winning play combination for the Chicago Cubs in 1935, you’d be off topic.
To avoid getting off topic, it’s a good idea to go back to reread the original topic question.
THE INTRODUCTION: STEP 2
Let’s begin by FREEWRITING.
By FREEWRITING, I mean writing anything that comes to mind into a rough draft of what you generally want to say about the topic.
Give yourself a few minutes to write on scrap paper.
THIS IS NOT THE FINAL ESSAY BUT JUST A DRAFT!
Let’s go back to our opening topic:
EMPLOYMENT IS A MAJOR CONCERN FOR MOST GRADUATING COLLEGE STUDENTS. WHAT WILL YOU BE ABLE TO OFFER AN EMPLOYER WHEN YOU BEGIN TO LOOK FOR A JOB?
Freewrite your introduction on a separate piece of paper.
Now, re-read what you have written. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself:
Does your writing address the topic?
Does it stay on the topic?
Is it too long?
Is it too short?
Is there a coherent idea being developed? Is this a good thesis?
If this were the first paragraph, would it be general enough, yet focused enough, to lead you into the body of the essay for the full discussion of the topic?
Can any of these ideas be used for the body? Circle and save them. (More about this later.)
Does your paragraph begin with an opening phrase that catches the reader’s interest in your topic?
Can you locate the thesis? Is it a complete sentence expressing a complete thought?
Is is divided into two or three parts?
Does it contain ideas that do not belong under your topic?
Can you eliminate those ideas and replace them with ideas that do belong?
Circle and save them.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE OF A FREEWRITE ROUGH DRAFT:
After college job employment graduated with a degree in English/French. High verbal skills, good written skills – translation, export-import, publishing, communications – I’d look there. Worked on college radio station as a dj-good speaking voice – liked radio broadcasting – programming, writing and designing programs as well as hosting a talk show and doing live book reviews on the air for the local library.
LET’S TRY ANOTHER TOPIC:
FOR MANY STUDENTS, WRITING AN ESSAY IS THE MOST DIFFICULT ACADEMIC TASK THAT THEY FACE IN COLLEGE. LOOKING BACK TO YOUR HIGH SCHOOL DAYS, HOW COULD YOU HAVE BEEN BETTER PREPARED FOR THE CHALLENGE OF WRITING IN COLLEGE?
How would you approach this topic? Look carefully at the question. Does it want a personal response based on your own firsthand experience?
On a separate sheet of paper, begin freewriting. Write down everything that comes to mind. Think of what you did do in high school when you wrote an assignment for an English teacher, and think of what you didn’t do. Think of how you could have been better prepared for college level writing.
After ten minutes, stop freewriting. Look at your work. Can you spot one or two elements of the freewrite that look promising. Circle that part of the freewrite.
NOW THINK ABOUT THE BODY OF THE ESSAY.
WRITING THE BODY: STEP 3
The body of the essay contains all the major and minor supporting details, evidence, examples and explanation. It takes off from the introduction to expand the ideas stated in the thesis. It develops those ideas and provides examples for them so the reader has a clear picture of what it is you are presenting in the introduction. It contains a full discussion of the topic.
TAKE A FEW EXTRA MINUTES TO FREEWRITE THE BODY
You should try to generate a list of one word items or groups of items into short phrases. This is an associate list, a list of elements that pop into mind when you remember back to high school writing. After you have a few items in front of you, see if you can group those items into categories that fit together, and which will fit the idea of your introduction.
NOTE: The body of the essay is generally broken down into several paragraphs. This depends on the nature of the topic and on the nature of your thesis. If your thesis is developed into two parts, it follows naturally that your body will be separated into two parts. The more developed the thesis, the more detailed the body.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A SAMPLE FREEWRITE, INTRO, AND BODY ON THE ABOVE TOPIC:
High school writing:
Little homework, no in-class writing, little reading, overworked teachers, no workshop environment, no study groups. In high school we didn’t do enough writing. Senior year. No one told us what to expect in college. Hung out in cafeteria, cut classes to sneak into New York City to go drinking. Other courses: history, social studies, science, math, health, phys ed. No writing. Multiple choice exams. I remember one teacher who inspired me. He made us write. He discussed movies and brought in interesting books from other cultures. We never kept a journal, never wrote poetry. Boring subjects. In History all we did was memorize dates.
College. Big change. Total shock. Reading assignments were long and writing assignments were expected to be typed double spaced and ten pages long. Took trips to Chicago on dates with Maria. Professors assumed we knew how to write, and write without grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. They would not take time out from their lectures to go over these problems. In college I was on my own.
TIME TO STOP.
GO OVER THE ABOVE WRITE DOWN THE PARTS YOU FEEL ADDRESS THE TOPIC. ALSO INDICATE THE PARTS THAT SEEM IRRELEVANT. IS THERE ANYTHING MISSING?
IF THERE IS, GENERATE SOME MORE FREEWRITING UNTIL YOU ARE SATISFIED.
In looking over the above freewrite, I decided there was one thing missing. The topic is really asking about writing in college and about being prepared to write in college. So I can’t focus on writing in high school alone, but on how the writing in high school, or lack of it, did or did not prepare me adequately for the challenge of college writing.
I wish I had learned more vocabulary. Writing is word power so is reading. Read more write more. Should have, could have. Wish there had been college orientation sessions in junior/senior year with reading lists and model college essays. guidance counselors were useless. A college mentor program using college students to act as mentors to high school juniors and seniors would have helped.
Now look over the above. Does it have more focus? Does it address the topic? Note: in freewrites, capitalization, punctuation, complete subject/predicate sentences are not essential.
From this point you should be able to outline what you want to discuss and what you want to include by way of example.
II. (In high school, I could have been better prepared for college writing by learning more vocabulary, doing more reading, and being tutored by mentors.)
A. HIGH SCHOOL WRITING EXPERIENCE
No in-class writing
No writing in courses outside English
Not told what to expect in college
A. COLLEGE WRITING EXPERIENCE
Expected to know how to write
Very long writing assignments
Professors wouldn’t teach grammar
A.HOW I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PREPARED
Teachers/guidance counselors who stressed writing
College writing orientation sessions
College mentor program for juniors/seniors
(Read the next section for tips on writing a conclusion.)
WRITING A CONCLUSION: STEP 4
Conclusions are similar to introductions. They are shorter than the body paragraphs and generally do not contain any supporting details.
CONCLUSIONS ARE WRITTEN IN TWO WAYS:
One way of writing the conclusion is to get out of the essay by signaling to the reader that the essay is coming to an end. Then resummarize the general idea (not using the same words from the introduction) of the essay in a couple of sentences. Transition words that signal conclusion or summarization are helpful if used properly.
FOR EXAMPLE: If I wanted to signal the coming to the end of my sample essay above, I might begin the final paragraph this way:
As a result of my high school writing experience, I had to learn later in life what I needed to know then. Consequently, I had to learn the hard way which made my writing experience in college difficult at first. If it wasn’t for my determination to succeed in college, and my willingness to get help, my writing would never have developed.
Can you pick out the transition words in the above paragraph that help signal to the reader that the essay is coming to a close? Jot them down on a separate piece of paper.
Another way of drawing to a close is to "branch out" by showing further relevance to other related issues, and by predicting your reader’s possible response of "so what?" Why is what you have said significant?
FOR EXAMPLE: If I wanted to focus out to show further relevance to other issues, I might begin this way:
Writing is an ongoing learning process that doesn’t end in College or high school. It’s a lifelong commitment to the written word. There were and still are other areas of my education that high school did not prepare me for when I entered college. There were and still are areas in my life that even college could not have prepared me for after graduation. (I could add another sentence or two about those areas to branch out further.)
Notice that I am trying to enclose a larger picture around the general idea of being prepared as a way to branch out of the essay. This leaves the reader with the idea that there are other related issues to consider before moving on.
PROOFREADING THE ESSAY: STEP 5
You should allow yourself ten minutes to proofread your entire essay. Below is an example of an actual essay. By proofreading, you should be able to find and to correct the grammar and surface errors.
PROOFREAD THE ESSAY BELOW AND, ON A SEPARATE SHEET OF PAPER, WRITE DOWN ALL OF THE ERRORS YOU FIND.
Yes, gun control can work, but not under the present system. A person can purchase handguns and rifles far too easy. There is just too much killing going on, but we can cut this needless killing in half. By strictor gun control measures while still having a gun control system that works. This is what I want to cover.
Killing is my most deeply concerning fact about gun control. There is just to much violence and death associated with guns. In our present day and age we’re suppose to be civilized. Then I read in the paper about how barbaric some people can get with guns. Its very alarming to me and our society. How can we stop this?
The courses that I’ve taken through the semesters here have opened my eyes to reality. You don’t have to end gun ownership all together, but you can put a restriction on what type of gun you can own. The point I’m trying to make is that you can own a gun. The kind of gun is another story. People who wish to won guns should only be allowed to won shotguns, or certain kinds of rifles. This would illiminate a lot of robberies and senseless killings.
You see handguns are easily hidden from everyones view. Shotguns will be more easier to see. Then the criminals plans will be stopped before they have time to carry them out. I know this sounds too good to be true, but it would probably stop at least half of the unjustifiable killings.
Education and harsher laws should be emphasized too. If a person owns a gun and commits a misdemeanor. Then immediately that gun should be taken away from that person. This would show the person isn’t mature enough to own such a dangerous weapon. If a person should commit a crime with a gun then a jail sentence should be longer.
That point brings me to my next opinion. Education should be stressed very much when owning a gun. When a person purchases a gun. He or she should undergo several classes and screening to evaluate the competence level of the person. If the buyers of guns failin this test. Then it should be easily seen not to give them the right to own a gun. I feel the classes should be given by the communities police department as well. This way it will show the police are people too. This may just deter a crime or a violent act. After all the police are just trying to make a living like everybody else.
I wish my gun control law was deeply instituted in our society. The hunters could still hunt, and the criminals would have a tough time robbing stores and people. The police wouldn’t have to worry so much either. It plainly would be a safer society to live in.
NOW, SEE IF YOU CAN PUT THE ERRORS YOU LISTED UNDER THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:
Fragments; Run ons; Subject/Verb Agreement; Confused words; Misspelling; Possession/apostrophe.
If you are unsure what category an error falls into, put it under "MISCELLANEOUS."
Now, ask yourself the following questions about the essay, and write your answers down:
Is there a clear thesis? Find it and write it down.
Is there a clear position on gun control? If so, what is it?
In the 3rd paragraph, is there a clear relationship to the topic?
Is the next to the last sentence of the 3rd paragraph a good sentence?
In the 4th paragraph, does the author answer how criminals’ plans will be stopped? Is there any support or evidence given to illustrate what the author has in mind?
Is the statistic mentioned in the 4th paragraph a proven statistic?
Should sources of proof be given?
In the 6th paragraph, is the statement "police are people, too." part of the topic?
In what other ways could this essay be improved?
Holistic scoring is a way of evaluating all of the various elements that go into making an essay. Essays are read this way in order to consider form and content. An essay is read by two people, who each assign it a score on a scale of 1 to 6. The scores are then combined. To pass, an essay’s combined score must total 7 or higher. Essay readers are looking at how well the topic is focused, and how well the essay develops ideas and supports them with specific details and concrete examples. They are also analyzing how well the essay is written in terms of college-level usage of language, diction, surface control, sentence structure, transition, spelling, punctuation and grammar. All of these criteria must be evaluated when scoring an essay.
The following Holistic Scoring Rubric provides the numerical scores used for different levels of essay writing.
College Writing Exam Holistic Scoring Rubric
6. A 6 essay (combined score 12) demonstrates a high degree of competence in response to the task.
An essay in this range generally has the following features:
- Is clearly well organized and coherently developed in the 450-600 word count range
- Supports a position with a well-developed explanation and/or illustration
- Clearly demonstrates facility in the use of language
- Is virtually free from errors in mechanics, usage, and sentence structure
A 5 essay (combined score 10) demonstrates clear competence in response to the assignment.
An essay in this range has the following features:
- Is generally well organized and coherently developed in the 450-600 word count range
- Supports a position with an explanation, illustration, or interrelated list of ideas
- Demonstrates facility in the use of language
Contains few errors in mechanics, usage, and sentence structure
A 4 essay (combined score 8) demonstrates competence in response to the task. An essay in this range generally has the following features:
- Is adequately organized and developed
- Supports a position with a few reasons
- Demonstrates adequate facility in the use of language
- May display some errors in mechanics, usage, or sentence structure, but not a consistent pattern of such errors
A 3 essay (combined score 6) demonstrates some degree of competence in response to the task but is clearly flawed.
An essay in this range reveals one or more of the following weaknesses:
Is inadequately organized or developed
Inadequately explains or illustrates a position
Demonstrates inappropriate use of language such as slang, jargon, and vague word choices.
Reveals a pattern or accumulation of errors in mechanics, usage, or sentence structure in which reading comprehension is occasionally impeded
A 2 essay (combined score 4) demonstrates only limited competence and is seriously flawed. An essay in this range reveals one or more of the following weaknesses:
- Lacks organization or development
- Does not provide explanation or illustration consistent with position taken
- Displays serious or persistent errors in use of language
- Displays serious errors in mechanics, usage, sentence structure, or word choice
A 1 essay (combined score 2) demonstrates fundamental deficiencies in writing skills. An essay in this category reveals one or more of the following weaknesses:
- Is undeveloped
- Is incoherent
- Contains serious and persistent writing errors
The first two essays printed below (I and II) are examples of failing papers. Errors have been color coded so that you can determine what types of problems are most prevalent in the student’s writing.
Wrong Word Choice:
¯ Punctuation Problem
Police should be more aggressive in enforcing quality of life issues. Helping the community to a better life style. The police have the right to take strong measures toward ending crime, noise and littering to improve the quality of life for everyone.
First, crime rate in-volving all age group is very high, and without the help of the police ¯ this rate is going to climb higher. For example, the two young boy in Arkansas who took the gun to school and open fire on their classmate and other students in the school ¯ with no reason at all for their action ; this is a perfect case, showing that the police intervention is needed in more ways than one to help with the youths of today. Another example, ¯ is the crime againce very young children by the hands of family or stranger is on the rise, ¯ every time you turn on the T.V. ¯ there must be something about a new born child found some were other than in the hospital, and with these cases the parents who are cought should be punish to the fullest extents of the law, to secure that the action will not be attemped by other young children in that situation.
Second, noise with the help of the police can reduce very low on the street, in the bus and boom box which is been carried by every yound boy/girl today. Noise is a nuisance in the sance that everyone is playing music with all type of profound language ¯ which should be heard only in the privacy of the home by the listerner. Artists like little Kim, who record should not be heard on the radio, muchless to under age kids, her words choises in her music is not sending the right messages to yound keds of today socity . ¯ Where we need all positive instillment « for a better way of life ¯ and that’s were the police come in ¯ if a yound boy or girl walking down the road with a boom box playing her music, the police should have the right to ask that person to turn it off without « other’s saying « the police is interfering with that person rights ¯ and if the person refuse, the police should take it away. Third, littering on city street is so bad, ¯ that people wonder were is there tax money going. on a average day one will be amaze ¯ driving down Broadway or any of the side street in Patterson;¯ with the amount of litter on the streets;¯ which are sign to be clean one or two days out of the week. For example¯ Hamilton Ave¯ have a sign side to be clean on see it different days ¯ but,¯ when the street cleaner clean that day ¯ on one come back to « the job is done ¯ or if the street need to clean more properly ¯ because the street cleaner itself sometime leave litter on the road. The next few day ¯ the road look like a little dump from people throughing their candy, cookie , and newspaper on the street/rood ¯ and if a police should be coming long and see this action¯ they should stop and ask that person to pick it up¯ and if the person refuses; ¯ that person should be fined for littering public street. In conclusion¯ the police play a very strong role with the quality of life in any community if they aggressively enforce the standard. This will help everyone in the long run in reducing crime, noise and littering for generation to generation to follow.
Many people think police officers should focus on major crime instead of « the quality of life issues. On the other hand, I happen to believe that quality of life issues have a huge impact on overall crime.
At the present time¯ statistics show,¯ crime has declined because of the enforcement of quality of life issues. Even the Mayor of New York City is beginning to enforce quality of life laws « such as jaywalking. I truly think that many people do not understand that if criminals are able to get away with something ¯ that they will continue committing crimes. With the quality of life issues being enforced, this serves « a warning to criminals that police officers are watching.
The "broken window" theory states that if a window happens to break or shatter ¯ and it is not replaced within a certain « time, then crime will thrive there. This is because if people think that no one is watching and the fact that no-one cares ¯ By enforcing these quality of life issues ¯ the public will believe that they are petty and meaningless ¯ but the real face of the matter is the declination of crime ¯
If more people know that enforcing quality of life laws effect the overall crime rate, then they would want these laws to be enforce. Afterall ¯ police officers have the job to protect and to serve, and with the quality of life issues being enforced, it makes the streets a lot safer.
For these reasons ¯ I believe that the quality of life issues should be enforced ¯ Many of the points that I have wrote about express the fact that if these quality of life laws are enforced ¯ the effect of them are astronomical. Finally ¯ we have found a major factor to why people commit crimes. In closing ¯ I vote two thumbs up on enforcing quality of life issues.
Essays III and IV are examples of passing essays. CLICK ON a number to find out why this is considered passing work.
Recent studies claim that the "Broken Window" theory of crime is a major factor in neighborhood deterioration. The "Broken Window" idea of crime includes non-violent crimes such as loud music, loitering, drinking on the street and harassing people. I firmly believe that the idea of crime plays an extremely large role in neighborhood deterioration.1
My number one support for this view comes from my own view of my hometown – Paterson, New Jersey. This is a town which demonstrates a prime example of how small, non-violent crimes, so called nuisance crimes, played a big role in forcing this once wonderful city into urban decay or deterioration. For example, here in Paterson , police tend to ignore these so called quality of life crimes. One can see easily what this does to the quality of life by taking a trip to River Shed or Summer Street here in Paterson. These are places where the small crimes have all added up and taken their toll on the neighborhood. As a result, River Street is a barren wasteland of junkyards and empty buildings. More simply put, nobody wants to live there anymore. These nuisance crimes committed by these nuisance people have forced businesses and residents away leaving a deteriorated neighborhood behind.2
A second solid piece of support for how nuisance crimes contribute to neighborhood deterioration is the simple fact that they add up to produce more violent crimes. This can be plainly seen with a trip to New York City. This large city has a murder or a rape about every hour. The funny part about it is the small nuisance crimes such as loitering all helped contribute to its now large violent crime rate. For example, in New York, police did not really do anything about loitering in the past. Before they knew it, they had gangs and drug dealers as the ones responsible for shootings, rape and burgulary. This is another prime example of how small nuisance crimes such as loitering played a role in the deterioration of another city by making way for more violent crimes.3
A third piece of evidence to support the idea that nuisance crimes add up to neighborhood deterioration comes from plain old common sense. What do you think will happen to your town if police are not more aggressive in enforcing nuisance crimes?
If police do not use more aggressive action in enforcing the so called nuisance crimes, any neighborhood will deteriorate rapidly. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that ignoring nuisance crimes leads to a neighborhood left in urban decay. If police do nothing about small crimes, then the criminals realize they can get away with much more horrible crimes. The next thing you know, you have that decayed, deteriorated neighborhood with heavy crime where nobody wants to live or have their business. After all, would you like to live or set up shop in a neighborhood with drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes?4
In conclusion, police need to be more aggressive in enforcing nuisance crimes. In addition, residents need to form neighborhood watch programs instead of turning a deaf ear to these problems. If this is done, a neighborhood could be saved from the chain reaction of nuisance crimes driving people and businesses away and leaving nothing but a well deteriorated neighborhood behind. 5
The "broken window" theory of crime is a major factor in neighborhood deterioration and strict enforcement of quality of life issues leads to sharp reductions in crime rates. This statement has been proven to be true by law enforcement agencies in large cities all across America in recent years. Cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit have waged an all-out war against people and practices that tear down the quality of life in our neighborhoods and cities.6
The "broken window" theory focuses on the smaller issues and problems of society. The theory is similar to the "domino effect"; in other words, if you take care of one thing, other things will simply fall into place. Major Giuliani and the New York City Police Department utilized the "broken window theory" and lowered crime rates in the city drastically. This showed the other large cities across the nation that taking care of smaller issues "first" will improve the quality of life in our cities and neighborhoods.7
The theory can be easily understood like this: " If there is a factory in a neighborhood that has a broken window, and the window is not repaired, over time more and more windows will be broken. When no more windows exist, then graffiti will begin to appear and then the rest of the ills of society will take its toll on the neighborhood; and detioration then begins. If that first window had been repaired, the other windows would not have been broken and the domino effect would have been stopped." It is a simple theory based on statistical fact and it works. It may sound frivolous to citizens that instead of pushing gangs off of street corners and prostitutes off the streets, the police are going to ticket individuals littering, giving unlicensed vendors summons and towing double parkers. Well, it may sound ineffective but it is not. Taking care of these small problems will circumvent the larger problems.8
The "broken window" theory is another technique in the long line of law enforcement remedies to deal with the crime problem today. The theory is "pro-active" and requires police to recognize, not ignore, offense and deal with it. Offenses such as littering, noise, truancy, loitering, double-parking, licensing, property neglect and graffiti are minor offenses that blossom into larger problems that, in turn, can transform a clean neighborhood into a slum or "ghetto" within the span of five or ten years. For example, let’s take a look at loitering. If the police where to ignore individuals who loiter on a street corner several things could happen. If a couple of "loiterers" band together, they have now formed a gang. Gangs are a serious problem in our cities today. A gang is a haven for misplaced and unguided young people and is directly related to our inner city drug problem. Gangs and drug-related activity work hand-in-hand. Once drugs is introduced into the scenario, firearms and other weapons begin to appear. Once weapons enter the scene, assaults and even murder appears its ugly face. So, as you can see from merely ignoring loitering, a major problem can appear. The dominos started with loitering and ended with homicide. 9
Almost every minor offense can mushroom like the loitering example. This is why the "broken window" theory is so effective. In years to come, there will be more ideas and theories or maybe even an updated "broken window" theory that law enforcement can use in efforts to halt the deterioration of our neighborhoods and cities. As stated above, the "broken window" theory was not the first, and will not be the last theory law enforcement will try, to battle the decay of our cities and towns. It is an unrelenting fight to ensure the quality of life for everyone.10