The Future of Criminology

The Future of Criminology

The Future of Criminology

The Future of Criminology


What makes a juvenile delinquent develop into an adult criminal? What defines-cognitively, developmentally, legally-the transition from juvenile to adult and what determines whether patterns of criminal behavior persist? In most US states and Western nations, legal adulthood begins at age 18. This volume focuses on the period surrounding that abrupt transition and addresses what happens to offending careers during it. Edited by two leading authorities in the fields of psychology and criminology, From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime examines why the period of transition is important and how it can be better understood and addressed both inside and outside of the justice system. Bringing together over thirty leading scholars from multiple disciplines in both North America and Europe, this volume asks critical questions about criminal careers and causation, whether current legal definitions of adulthood accurately reflect actual maturation and development, and if special legal provisions should be established for young adults. With serious scholarly analysis and practical policy proposals, From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime addresses what can be done to ensure that today's juvenile delinquents do not become tomorrow's adult criminals.


In a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676, Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This is how I feel. I am not sure that I have seen a little further than anyone else (probably not!) but I have certainly “stood on the shoulders of giants,” metaphorically of course.

In this foreword, I will first pay tribute to the older generation of scholars who inspired me and from whom I learned a great deal (most of whom, sadly, are now deceased). This is the “looking backward” part. I could spend just as much time paying tribute to my contemporaries and to the younger generations of scholars, but I do not have space to do this, and many excellent examples of their work are included in this book. I am extremely gratified by the number of prominent scholars who have found time in their busy schedules to contribute a chapter to this book, and of course I am particularly grateful to Rolf Loeber and Brandon Welsh for their great efforts to bring this project to fruition. Lee Robins used to joke that I could write faster than she could think, but this statement would apply more accurately to Rolf and Brandon!

In the second part of this foreword, I will look forward, identifying some key issues in criminology and making recommendations about what research is needed to advance knowledge. This part could equally be entitled “Toward a Scientific Criminology.”

Looking Back

It is always invidious to single out particularly influential scholars, but I decided to limit myself to only 10. I could, of course, have paid tribute to many more people. First, Alan Watson, my Ph.D. supervisor, taught me to think and write clearly. He would go through my drafts with a fine-tooth comb, constantly asking, “How does this follow from that?” Second, Donald West, the first director of the Cambridge study, set very high standards of meticulous data collection and analysis, and would never allow any problems to be swept under the table. In a longitudinal study, any problems have to be fully resolved now or they will come back to haunt you in days to come! Donald had another life as a psychical researcher, and his experience in this field (where no one believed any results and looked for every possible alternative explanation) meant that he never accepted any finding uncritically and rigorously . . .

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