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2 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 1 (1965)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd2 and id is 1 raw text is: 








The Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

VOLUME 2                      JANUARY 1965                       NUMBER 1





Correctional Research: An Elusive Paradise*

                               DANIEL  GLASER
                   Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois
                   Ph.D. (Sociology), 1954, University of Chicago


          Criminologists repeatedly have envisioned academic  Utopias
        in pisons,  courts, and other agencies handling criminals. In
        their dream  worlds, research would guide practice and practi-
        tioners would support  research. Such promising arrangements,
        though  sometimes  initiated, have never been  fully achieved.
        Their failure involved either co6ptation of academicians by ad-
        ministrators, in which instances research goals were abandoned,
        or divergence of research and operations into separate and largely
        autonomous   social systems.
          New  advances toward  this elusive ideal have recently been in-
        dicated at  several points. These gains seem  to  require the
        institutionalization of rationality in correction through (1)
        legislative demands for change and for hard criteria of achieve-
        ment  in coping with criminals; (2) bridging of traditional admin-
        istrathie boundaries between police, courts, prisons, and parole;
        and  (3) research designs which accommodate the conflicting or-
        ganizational goals of correctional systems.


T   HE  HISTORY  OF  CORRECTIONAL   RE-
    SEARCH  resembles  the  history of
religion. There  have  been  successive
periods of discontent, new cults promising
simple solutions, and social movements
institutionalizing the new approaches in
judicial or correctional practice. But dis-
content  recurs, and  new   movements
continually emerge.

         SCIENCE AS SALVATION
  Commitment to a penal policy has
almost  always rested purely  on  faith
  * Paper prepared for a panel on Crime, Soci-
ology and Social Policy, at 59th Annual Meet-
ing, American Sociological Association, Montreal,
1 964.
                                       1


in its efficacy, or on a selfish interest in
it, rather than on  empirical evidence
proving  that it achieves its professed
purposes. Yet proponents  of each  way
of treating criminals, whether it be cap-
ital punishment or solitary confinement,
hard  labor or nondirective counseling,
have all asserted that their method suc-
ceeds, either in changing criminals or
in deterring others from becoming crim-
inals. The  literature proposing penal
standards, from Old  Testament  injunc-
tions to Beccaria's essay, from Bentham's
felicific calculus to the latest pro-
nouncements  of  prison psychiatrists, is
replete with empirical claims. But this
literature is almost uniformly deficient

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