Citizenship through Participation
This chapter explores in more detail the nature and quality of interaction citizen groups have with the policy process in the two urban locales studied. In particular, the chapter addresses the two major questions left unanswered by the empirical analyses of the previous chapters: First, are the broad citizen groups that are active at the local level participating meaningfully in the policy process? Second, are they contributing anything substantially different from other groups? This chapter offers a more in-depth analysis of the local data in an effort to answer these complicated and underexplored questions and argues that the groups mobilized locally around urban crime problems frequently present policy frames that are substantially different from those promulgated by criminal justice agencies, professional associations, and highly active single-issue groups. Indeed, the deep connection urban dwellers have to crime, its causes, and its consequences makes their perspective unique and highly practical. Most notably, the policy environment for responding to crime at the local level is considerably more focused on victims—specifically on harm reduction—than is the environment at the state and national levels, where criminal justice agencies and narrow victims' groups dominate and focus much attention on punishing offenders.
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