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17 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 1 (1980)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd17 and id is 1 raw text is: 








EDITOR'S COMMENTS                           This is the first issue of the
Journal of Research in Crime and  Delinquency in the new decade of the
1980s, and the articles in it constitute a fair representation of the character
of much  of contemporary criminological research. If one were to compare
these articles with those published in the January 1970 issue of the Journal,
the reader  would be struck, by the increased sophistication of method-
ological technique today. Some theoretical advances have been made, but
chiefly we seem to have gained in our ability to bring increasingly powerful
analytic techniques to bear upon some new and some very old problems.
     Among  the older types of criminological research in this country is the
investigation of the spatial distribution of crime. The first article in this
issue, by Gregory Kowalski, Robert Dittmann, and Wayne Bung, describes
the changes in crime patterns in the United States through most of the
1970s and reflects important demographic shifts that occurred during that
time. While the article illustrates nicely the facility that the computer af-
fords us in conducting this kind of study, it also reflects some of the un-
solved methodological problems that confront those who use official data.
At this time, the federal government is determining the future of criminal
justice statistics in this country. Perhaps there will be no more important
debate waged  in criminal justice in the next decade than that now under
way  concerning the character and the emphasis of our national crime-re-
porting system in the next years.
     The  next article in the Journal, by Stephen  Gottfredson, Kathy
Young,  and William Laufer, also illustrates the kind of basic development
that must be undertaken to improve our measurement capacity in the next
decade. This article examines the well-known Sellin and Wolfgang Seri-
ousness Index and raises some questions about some of the features of that
scale. Specifically, the authors examine the assumption that elements of the
index are simply additive, concluding that this is not the case and illustrat-
ing their point by analyzing differences in perceptions associated with vari-
ous crimes at different levels of seriousness. It is a clear example of the
application of sophisticated analytic technique to a problem with which we
have been grappling for some time.
     The  next four articles in the Journal actually consist of two sets of
essays, the first member of each set dealing with a general theme, and the
second focusing on a specific topic within that theme. The first article of the
initial set, by Ronald Simons, Martin Miller, and Stephen Aigner, describes
research undertaken to determine whether several of the leading contem-
porary theories of delinquency causation are sex specific. The research took
place in the state of Iowa and involved a large number of young people in
interviews and the completion of questionnaires. Using a population of Iowa


JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, JANUARY 1980


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