—an urgently needed resource *
Over 30 years ago a distinguished Commission appointed by the President of the United States to study crime and propose measures for its control reported serious deficiencies in essential information at the national level.Calling "accurate data * * * the beginning of wisdom," the Wickersham Commission recommended development of a "comprehensive plan" for a "complete body of statistics covering crime, criminals, criminal justice, and penal treatment" at the Federal, State, and local levels and the entrusting of this plan at the Federal level to a single agency. 1
Had this recommendation been adopted, the present Commission would not have been forced in 1967 to rely so often on incomplete information or to conclude so frequently that important questions could not be answered.
Given the importance of sound data to both crime control and public understanding, it is hard to believe that such basic facts as the trend of juvenile delinquency, the percent of crimes committed by professional criminals, or the likelihood of recidivism are beyond the capacity of our present statistical resources. In some respects the present system is not as good as that used in some European countries 100 years ago.There are no national and almost no State or local statistics at all in a number of important areas: the courts, probation, sentencing, and the jails. 2 There are important deficiencies in those statistics which are collected.There is no reliable measure of the extent of organized crime and no satisfactory test for police performance. In short, the United States is today, in the era of the high speed computer, trying to keep track of crime and criminals with a system that was less than adequate in the days of the horse and buggy.
In other areas our society has not been so cavalier about the____________________