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40 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2001)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj40 and id is 1 raw text is: 

The Howard Journal Vol 40 No 1. Feb 2001
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-2




                            Editorial

           Leslie T. Wilkins - a tribute


Leslie Wilkins, one of the editors of the Howard Journal of CriminalJustice for
a decade, died on 8 May 2000. Les first became an editor in May 1987,jointly
with Ken Pease and  then with Nigel Fielding, and continued until retiring
from  the editorship in 1998. After his retirement he remained an active
assessor of articles submitted to the journal until about a year before his
death. Les's involvement with the journal came at a time when the journal
was consolidating its establishment as a credible academic journal, and the
task of providing material which would appeal to the wide and varied reader-
ship of the journal is a complex balancing act in itself. During his time as
editor Les helped  to continue the improvement   in the standard of the
contents of the journal as well as providing general guidance in a new phase
of its development. Articles containing complex or sophisticated data analy-
ses were his specialty, but he also had strong views about the nature of the
debate in criminology and criminal justice more generally.
   Readers wishing to know more of Les's life and work should see the obit-
uaries published, in The Times on 2June, The Independent on 12 May, and The
Guardian on 3July, all of which recount a long and distinguished career. Les
was involved with the early developments of operational research in World
War  II and from that time on he believed that evidence was a better guide
to policy and practice than were authority or conviction; a belief which led
him  into many conflicts with those in authority. His expertise in statistics
took him  into leading an Air Ministry team, specialising in investigations
which  had long-term effects on aircraft safety. His pioneering criminologi-
cal work with Herman  Mannheim  using predictions about the recidivism of
borstal boys helped to challenge the Prison Commission's  certainty that
borstal worked. Until recently, this was the only report in the Home Office
Research  Studies series to carry a disclaimer - the others were all regarded
as statements of Home  Office policy. From the mid-1950s he was deputy
director of the then newly established Home Office Research Unit where he
shaped  its programme of research as well as the style of research leading to
evidence-based government  policy.
   After quitting the Home Office in the 1960s, following being accused of
leaking evidence of internal disagreements over drugs policy, he moved
eventually to the United States and an academic career, first in the Univer-
sity of California at Berkeley and later in the State University of New York
(Albany). He  was influential in the development  of US  Federal parole
policy, which succeeded in separating the facts of cases from the vagaries of
judicial and parole board decisions. Les's work on sentencing led to the

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