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19 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 1 (1982)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd19 and id is 1 raw text is: 
EDITOR'S         COMMENTS                 For the last decade it has
been generally accepted by sophisticated students in the field of delin-
quency prevention that there is little direct relationship between delin-
quent behavior  and religious commitment.  Important as grounds  for
this view was Hirschi and Stark's article appearing in Social Problems,
entitled Hellfire and Delinquency. The paper was widely quoted and
often cited as the definitive study on the question.
     In this issue of the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquen-
cy, Rodney Stark and  two colleagues, Lori Kent and Daniel Doyle, re-
examine  the question. They conclude that religious belief does indeed
have a restraining influence on delinquent behavior; however, in order
for it to be made manifest, the environment must be one in which re-
ligious belief is the norm. It is in highly secularized communities that
the restraining power of religious commitment is seriously undermined.
This article is important because of its findings and the implications of
those findings in the development of delinquency prevention programs.
It is also a superb example of the evolution of research, a process of
continued refinement  and incremental  development.
     The second article in this issue of the Journal is by Mark Warr,
Jack  Gibbs, and Maynard   Erickson, who describe an attempt to test
two theories of criminal law. The first of these, the consensual theory, is
that law expresses the fundamental and widely held values and beliefs
of society. The second is conflict theory, according to which law repre-
sents an expression of the interests of the dominant class in society, a set
of interests that often are imposed on a public whose own interests do
not coincide with those of the dominant class. The paper is an addition
to the growing body  of research in the sociology of law which has de-
veloped in the last two years. The findings of these researchers, whose
work  in this area of study is among the most respected in the country,
are clearly problematical; and the authors are not inhibited in their
conclusions. They assert bluntly that advocates of the two contending
theories of criminal law do not deserve further hearings until they curb
their appetite for oversimplification.
     The next three articles shift attention away from the general topic
of crime and delinquency  and focus on the issue of society's responses
to the identified offender. They deal in different ways with one of the
most important  contemporary questions in penal and sentencing policy.
That question concerns, briefly, the extent to which prediction of future
behavior should  be permitted in decision making about the character
and  duration of the state's control over those found to have committed
an  offense. In recent years a number of writers have argued that, be-


JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, JANUARY 1982


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