AuthorZimring, Franklin E.

The revision and republication of an edited volume of essays on crime and public policy is not usually an event of large public significance. This volume is an exception. A revised and expanded version of a collection edited by James Q. Wilson and published in 1983, the new edition deserves attention because of the high quality of many of the essays and because of the way in which the changing list of topics covered in the new collection reflects shifting priorities and fashions in academic thinking about crime. Comparison of Professor Wilson's earlier sentiments with the 1995 vintage also shows the extent to which the policy impact of two decades of hard line hegemony have disappointed the more rigorous partisans of law-and-order policies.

Professor Wilson edited the 1995 edition of Crime with Joan Petersilia, a longtime Rand Corporation researcher now on the faculty of the University of California at Irvine. About one half of the new book's materials are chapters of the old volume that the original authors have redone. Included in this category are chapters on criminogenic traits by Richard Herrnstein, on the family and crime by Travis Hirschi, on school violence by Jackson Toby, on police by Lawrence Sherman, on prisons by Alfred Blumstein, on criminal prosection by Brian Forst, and on defensible space and clime prevention by Charles Murray. The authors have extensively revised and updated most of these chapters. And while some of the redone chapters retain the conceptual organizations of their earlier incarnations, the authors have included every major empirical finding of the intervening decade.

The new topics in the 1995 volume include American crime in international perspective, juvenile crime, community-level influences on crime, biomedical correlates of crime, gangs, mass media and violence, gun control, alcohol and drug policy, criminal justice research, and the federal role in crime control. Some of these new essays are state-of-the-art statements that are as good as any in the literature; for example, Phillip Cook and Marc Moore on gun control, and Robert Sampson on community-level influences. The general quality of the all-new essays is somewhat higher than that of the chapters carried forward from the earlier volume. In part, this is because the editors have recruited an all-star cast for the additional chapters. Further, the new essays have diluted the rightward tilt of the 1983 volume.

The result is a large collection of...

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