Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2004
As co-editors of the Western Criminology Review, we are proud to present the first issue of Volume 5. We believe that all of the pieces included in this issue represent significant contributions to the criminological literature. Approximately two years ago when we took over as editors of the journal, we decided that our highest priority was to ensure that WCR be an important outlet for quality research. We hope readers will agree with us that the empirical studies and reviews included here go a long way toward accomplishing this goal.
In the first article, Ivan Sun, Ruth Triplett and Randy Gainey present an innovative test of Sampson and Groves' model of Social Disorganization. This study not only examines extensions of this model that have been suggested by recent findings, but it uses a data set drawn from 36 neighborhoods in seven U.S. cities that has not been previously used to test this model.
The next paper uses data from the Boys Town study of adolescent substance use. In this paper, Gang Lee, Ronald Akers, and Marian Borg further specify the dynamics between elements of the Social Structure and Social Learning (SSSL) model. The authors effectively use structural equation modeling to examine to what extent the effects of the social structure variables are mediated by the social learning variables.
John Worrall and Travis Pratt present an important discussion of issues associated with time-series-cross-section analysis in the third article. Given the heavy reliance on statistical techniques in modern criminological research, this paper is an insightful review of many areas of estimation issues. Furthermore, the authors use panel data from California counties to provide a test of which estimation issues present the biggest problems and, thus, should be given the most attention in future research.
In the final feature article, Dennis Loo and Ruth-Ellen Grimes examine public opinion data of the 1960s and 1970s to challenge the validity of commonly-held assumptions about when crime concerns became a top priority among U.S., citizens. The authors provide evidence that such assumptions were primarily the result of a moral panic that was engineered by particular groups and institutions, such as the media and pollsters.
In addition to the feature articles, this issue contains several book reviews in the Commentary section. In the first review, Marissa Potchak examines Why Crime Rates Fell by John Conklin (2003: Allyn & Bacon), which discusses various reasons for significant decreases in crime in New York City during the 1990s. J. C. Oleson examines Alston Chase's Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist (2003: Norton & Company) in the second book review, a book that is based upon hundreds of sources including Chase's personal correspondence with one of the most notable serial killers of our time. Finally, Robert Moore discusses Justice Blind? Ideals and Realities of American Criminal Justice by Matthew Robinson (2002: Prentice Hall) in the third review, which examines various criticisms and recommendations in the criminal justice system. All three books deal with important present-day topics and, thus, are important readings for all criminologists.
We would like to take a moment to thank Joe Wilcox for joining our staff. Joe will be assuming the Book Review Editor's position.
We hope you enjoy the issue, and please don't hesitate to give us feedback.
Stephen Tibbetts, Ph.D.
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