Crime, by James Q. Wilson & Joan Petersilia (eds.), ICS Press, 1995, 650 pp.
Ever since crime started rising sharply in the 1960s, it has been a subject of increasingly intensive study by criminologists. Crime, edited by two of the most highly-regarded authorities on the subject, James Q. Wilson of UCLA and Joan Petersilia of UC Irvine, is a collection of 20 scholarly essays by experts, summarizing the current academic understanding of street crime. Although the authors either ignore the implications of race or speak of it sotto voce, it is clear that criminologists are shedding some of the social science illusions from previous decades. Among their findings:
- Criminals almost always share certain characteristics, both genetic and environmental.
- Poverty and unemployment do not cause crime.
- Rehabilitation does not work.
- The only practical benefit of prison is that it keeps criminals from committing more crime.
- Drug treatment, “crime prevention,” and alternatives to imprisonment do not work.
- Early “intervention” to reform juvenile delinquents does not work.
The Criminal Personality
The personality of the typical criminal is already established by age two or three. He is aggressive, refractory, impulsive, unaffectionate, and difficult to rear. By contrast, a child with a sunny, winning disposition is very unlikely to become a criminal. As one of the authors explains, “antisocial personality almost never shows up in adulthood (barring brain injury or disease) without having been foreshadowed by antisocial behavior in childhood.”..........These are the chronic offenders who terrorize society; about six percent of the male population accounts for 50 percent of all arrests. These same proportions have been found in other countries...........To Read More....