"The number one issue of concern to Americans today is predatory crime, and we are pouring billions of dollars into programs designed to combat its threat. But how have these measures succeeded - or failed - in fighting crime? Now, Crime provides the authoritative evidence we need to understand the consequences of our policy choices. In one volume, preeminent criminologists Wilson and Petersilia have assembled leading experts from a variety of disciplines, philosophies, and political viewpoints for the most important evaluation of crime prevention and control strategies in more than a decade. Crime systematically grapples with the most persistent and controversial questions in the study of crime and violence: Why do some people become chronic, ungovernable criminals? Can gun control laws reduce violent crime? Does televised violence cause real violence? Do community alternatives to prison make matters better or worse? All the central issues in today's crime debate are covered in this book, including the effects of biomedical, family, neighborhood, and economic factors on criminality; how prosecutors and judges deal with offenders; the special problem of juvenile crime and gangs; the growth in prison populations and its effects - and much more. Many of the policies now being implemented do not reflect the current state of knowledge about what works and what doesn't in crime control. Crime explores reality-based alternatives that have the potential to restore the confidence in public safety that is essential to a strong civil society." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


The American public's concern about crime is not new. But it has reached unprecedented proportions, as we recoil from the randomness and brutality of the criminal activity that afflicts our nation--and particularly our cities-- today. Crime is a widespread problem that leaves few Americans and no communities untouched. For many of the poorest and least powerful of our citizens, however, protecting themselves and their families from violent crime is virtually a full-time preoccupation.

Through the work of our Center for Self-Governance, which supports community-building efforts in some of the nation's worst government housing projects, we at the Institute for Contemporary Studies have become more aware than ever that self-governance and the strong civil society that nurtures it are deeply threatened if citizens cannot count on a reasonable level of safety in their homes and persons. For this reason we proudly publish Crime. It will stand as a major contribution to the knowledge that is necessary if we are to find effective ways to lessen the menace of crime in our society.

In the face of rising public anxiety, the pressure on policy makers to "do something" about crime is strong--with the result that extensive and costly programs, with deep ramifications for our society, have often been put in place without real evidence of whether or not they will work. Too much policy has been made according to what we wish or believe rather than on the basis of what is known. the financial and social costs of ill-framed crime policy make it imperative that we find a way to understand the consequences and relative merits of our policy choices.

More than a decade ago, ics Press published James Q. Wilson Crime and Public Policy, which became an essential guide for policy makers. As the crime problems of the 1990s defined themselves, it became clear that a major update of that work was needed. the result is a new book: Crime. in compiling this volume, Wilson and his coeditor, Joan Petersilia, set out to bring the discussion begun in Crime and Public Policy into the present. This they have done with stunning success.

Wilson and Petersilia called upon twenty-six of the most respected schol-

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