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14 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 1 (1977)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd14 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

VOLUME 14                  JANUARY 1977                   NUMBER 1

                      Editorial Notes

IT  IS STILL TOO EARLY to say what
   the present disenchantment with
the rehabilitative model in correc-
tions will do to the criminal justice
system.  Nevertheless,  the  scene
changes. A new  cast of characters is
taking the stage, and criminological
research must accommodate   to new
assumptions and new methodologies.
Economists have  suddenly taken an
interest in our problems, particularly
those which have to do with the gen-
eral deterrence of crime. The work of
Ehrlich and Tullock has been given
prominence  in several distinguished
and learned journals, but so far there
has been little or no response from
their colleagues in the disciplines
whose interest in the crime problems
is of longer standing. Because the
propositions which  have been  ad-
vanced  by these writers and other
economists are of obvious importance
to social policy, we asked Dr. Palmer
to bring together a survey of litera-
ture and a guide to its assumptions.
Hardly  any topic in social science
presents more obstacles to research
than the study of deterrence. In spite
of the well known and valuable work
of Andenaes, Zimring and Hawkins,
Gibbs, and Kobrin, it is clear that the
contributions of the economists give
us much  more  to do. We hope that
thejournal can continue to provide a
forum  for further examination of a
theory which now depends  more  on
faith than empirical knowledge.

  If we cannot rehabilitate criminals
at least we can incapacitate them.
This theme runs through a consider-
able amount  of popular  discourse
about crime, notably the work of Wil-
son and van den Haag. Some  of the
estimates of the volume  of crime
which can be prevented by locking up
criminals might lead otherwise unin-
formed  policy-makers to conclude
that the golden solution to the worst
of our problems has been lying with-
out notice at our feet all along-all we
need to do is to enact stringent legis-
lation providing for mandatory sen-
tences. Van Dine and his colleagues
have examined this estimate in a sim-
ple statistical experiment which leads
to a much more  modest estimate of
the  usefulness of incapacitation
policies in the prevention of violent
crime. As with the conclusions of any
research, there is material for debate
here, and certainly these findings
need  replication before we can be
sure of our ground so far as it goes.
This research depends on the avail-
ability of a great deal of data and the
application of simple arithmetic to
simple sentencing models. What  is
true of Franklin County, Ohio may
be inconsistent with other  major
cities, but exercises of this kind
should make  a useful beginning to-
ward the substitution of facts for as-
sumptions  in this area of policy-


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