In the early 90`s the crime rate within the United States was nerve-wracking hence necessitating the creation of certain programs aimed at controlling criminal activity. One such program is the Weed and Seed program which was initiated in neighborhoods that were intolerant to law enforcement. A majority of the aforementioned areas was home to some of the deadliest gangs in the country. The term weeding meant the extermination of criminals who were involved in violence whereas seeding implied restorative efforts, treatment, and revitalization of neighborhoods affected by crime. This program was very effective although after a period of time it ended once funding was stopped. The initiative, nevertheless, managed to control crime in many cities across the United States.
The Department of Justice in the United States established the Weed and Seed program in 1991 in an attempt to exterminate social ills in the society (Soska & Ohmer, 2018). The local law enforcement agencies cooperated with the community-based initiative while seeking to control wrongdoing. The program initially began in only 3 regions, but within a short span of time, it had already spread out across 300 crime infested neighborhoods in the U.S (Soska & Ohmer, 2018). It also involved cooperation with members of the community who were to assist the law enforcers in weeding out criminals from their localities by providing helpful information.
The role played by the United States Attorney was the coordination of community members with law enforcement agencies. Besides, they were concerned with lobbying for funds to keep the program in motion. In respect to the latter precept, up to 300 communities utilized the funds obtained in 2004 from the community capacity development office (Miller, 2001). This is a viable initiative when compared to the traditional crime prevention methods used in the past. Despite being effective, the program lacked substantial funds to keep it running and by the end of the fiscal year 2011 most of the sites had closed down their operations due to insufficient funds (Miller, 2001). The initiative is still ongoing in some parts of the country, and although it is not being funded it is still a resourceful tool for controlling crime.
The central objectives of the Weed and Seed program was to get rid of drug abuse, violent crime and gang activity in an attempt to establish an environment that is crime free and also one that does not endorse the use of drugs. Besides the incentive seeks to foster economic and social development of various communities within the nation. It was mainly targeting communities with low standards of living whereby crime had become prevalent further exacerbating the situation for locals. The goals and methods of the platform are also cognizant with some theories. For instance, this program aligns to the Keynesian theory of welfare which was prevalent in the 1960`s (Roman, Cahill, Coggeshall, Lagerson & Courtney, 2005). It applies where cash assistance programs are adopted as an anti-poverty edifice. The divergence also matches with the Weed and Seed program`s dependence on the prisons systems to keep criminals away from the community.
The social control theory is a mechanism that assists individuals to comprehend ways they can use to impede criminal activity. It is based on the idea that the belief system of individuals is capable of nurturing a lawful environment. This implies that a person with such a belief system is capable of controlling their actions thus reducing the incidences of a crime occurring (Miller, 2001). This is congruent to the same restoration efforts that the Weed and Seed program stands for. For instance, the program advocates for cooperation amongst individuals in a particular setting. Similarly, the theory is based on attachment to other individuals. This implies that it would be hard for someone to let their neighbor suffer at the expense of another (Miller, 2001). Similarly, both are aimed at commitment to following laid out rules and regulations while incorporating involvement amongst individuals in a social setting.
Shaw and McKay came up with the disorganization theory. According to this theory, crime is essentially a component of the dynamics established by a particular neighborhood and not a function of individuals in a particular setting (Roman et al., 2005). This implies that neighborhoods that have high prevalence of crimes are unlikely to change since the criminal activity propagated by gang members is still ongoing. It was observed that when such gangs moved to neighborhoods with low crime rates, their criminal activity reduced significantly. This shows that such people are only comfortable when promulgating wrongdoing in areas where such activity is widespread. This corresponds to the Weed and Seed program has also been established on such a basis by focusing on crime-prone areas
It is possible for the crime factors that the weed and Seed program establishes to be handled by the police but only to a particular extent. In some instances, law enforcement officers have been labeled as biased individuals who at times arrest innocent individuals. As a result it occurs that some of the people in the society are unwilling to cooperate with the police thus making their work difficult (Miller, 2001). This, however, increases the incidences of crime and as a result results in undesirable effects. In this case it appears that some factors pertaining to crime are best when handled by other viable entities.
Some of the crime factors that require the involvement of other groups and agencies within the community may constitute family management issues, economic deprivation, and academic failure. This risk factors are an indication that the child is likely to develop criminal behavior as they grow up and hence the need for collective effort to prevent this from happening. In the end, it assists in reducing the incidences of crime in the community (Miller, 2001). Besides by reducing crime the Weed and Seed program is able to foster economic development in the society. In addition to crime prevention and eradication, the program also focused on the establishment of more employment opportunities and better living conditions factors that have the potential of eradicating crime.
Success of the initiative
The Weed and Seed project in Seattle concentrated on the Central District. This is a region consisting of eight neighborhoods. Between 1990 and 1992, the rate of unemployment increased from 8.5 to 15.7 resulting in heightened security concerns in the region (Miller, 2001). Prior to the initiation of the program in the region the rate of crime was 1.5 times more than that of the entire Seattle region and also 2.5 times greater compared to that of the entire nation (Miller, 2001). After its commencement, crime reduced drastically in the region, especially when the police got involved. In addition, gang-related activity, drug trafficking, and violence decreased and as a result, the region was able to advance significantly in terms of economic development.
One of the recommendations that would ascertain the triumph of the Weed and Seed program is to ensure that a criteria is developed which can determine when efforts have been successful in order to ensure that the funds are channeled to improve other sites. Secondly, some specific community personnel should be appointed in order to report on criminal activity occurring in their neighborhood. This will ensure that resources are used economically instead of utilizing the funds to chase after offenders without initial insight yet such efforts could end up proving to be futile. Thirdly, the program should outsource funds from private entities instead of depending entirely on the government. Another recommendation is the idea of focusing more on areas that are greatly affected by criminal activity. This would ensure that crime decreases significantly not only in such a region but also in the entire nation as well. Finally, it would be best for the proponents of this program to continue lobbying for its reinstitution by compelling the government to allocate funds to support the program. In the end, it will end up being worthwhile, since the incentive has already proved to be essential in the past.
It is evident that the Weed and Seed program has been very resourceful to the United States. The development which began early in the 90`s has managed to reduce incidences of violence across many cities across the United States. It has also managed to quash gangs and reduce incidences related to abuse of drugs. Also, this program has been effective in the restoration of peace in many of the neighborhoods that had been grappling with crime for long. Despite having become less popular due to lack of funding, it is essential that it becomes reestablished since it has demonstrated its effectiveness. It can, hence, be concluded that this is one of the most potent formations that has ever been made in regards to Justice and Law enforcement.
Miller, L. L. (2001). The politics of community crime prevention: Implementing Operation Weed and Seed in Seattle. Dartmouth Publishing Company.
Roman, C. G., Cahill, M., Coggeshall, M., Lagerson, E., & Courtney, S. (2005). The weed and seed initiative and crime displacement in South Florida: An examination of spatial displacement associated with crime control initiatives and the redevelopment of public housing. Final Report. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
Soska, T. M., & Ohmer, M. L. (2018). Community Approaches for Addressing Crime and Violence: Prevention, Intervention, and Restoration. In Handbook of Community Movements and Local Organizations in the 21st Century (pp. 469-496). Springer, Cham.
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