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23 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 3 (1986)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd23 and id is 1 raw text is: 

                               EDITOR'S COMMENTS

   Kurt Lewin once suggested in response to a critic of abstractions in
social science that there is nothing more practical than a good theory.
Indeed, the essence of good social science theory lies precisely in its
capacity to explain more accurately and convincingly a greater range of
human  behavior than previously possible. This issue of the Journal of
Research  in Crime and  Delinquency  illustrates the progression and
interdependence  of the concrete and the abstract in criminological
   In correctional administration, few  things rank  higher on  an
intractability scale than the problem posed by those variously called
emotionally  disturbed or mentally disordered  offenders. Even ap-
proaches regarded as the most effective in contemporary practice are, in
the end, unstable compromises  among   a series of conflicting forces
within and between  prison and mental health systems. The source of
those conflicts arises fundamentally from the baffling nexus between a
theory of law based on a notion of self-responsibility and another that
admits the possibility of a diminished, or even a nonexistent, responsi-
bility. Its manifestations are varied and often intertwined with other
dimensions. Thus they emerge  in such forms as tensions between two
bureaucracies, one charged with dealing with the insane, the other with
the criminal, and neither desirous of dealing with a disruptive person
who  arguably can be assigned to one or the other. In another instance
these conflicts are reflected by the strains arising from a theory of
treatment calling for the segregation of the mentally disordered in
separated units where specialized care can be given, and another calling
for the maintenance of such persons as much as possible in a normal
environment  (in this case, ironically, the prison) and developing greater
tolerance for unusual behaviors in that environment.
   In the lead article Toch and Adams describe a research project in
which they address the issues of dealing with such offenders. They begin
by studying what they identify as important relationships and discover
among   other things that mentally ill inmates have a higher rate of
disciplinary infractions than others and that the rate of disciplinary
infractions is related to the nature, severity, and chronicity of inmate
mental health problems. They then explore the dilemmas posed by these
findings from a practical and humane perspective and suggest a number


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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