Dalhousie Law Journal


Jim Ortego


Criminology, social science research, political philosophies, answer to the crime problem.


Criminology is the unhappiest ship afloat in the sea of social science research. No one has been able to find the answer to the two simple questions that are a permanent plague: Why do people commit crime? How do you persuade them not to do it again? Each generation or so, any number of experts from diverse disciplines and political philosophies burst upon criminology with the answer to the crime problem. In the last fifty years they have taken the discipline, such as it is, through borstal training, open institutions, guided group interaction, open ended research designs and any number of other innovations, alterations and fads. Unfortunately, none of these magical formulae have been able to achieve anything near the success hoped for by their proponents. Some have occasionally enjoyed limited successes, but none has been able to cut a path across the entire wilderness that is crime. Undaunted, criminologists continue to search for an answer to the two questions. Any answer that sounds reasonably plausible, can be tested through traditional social scientific methods, guarantees employment, and has a good chance for funding, is sure to receive attention if not credibility. Nowadays many criminologists are singing either or both of two tunes, each one struggling for its rightful place among the discarded fads in the junkyard of criminology. One is "critical" criminology and the other is "diversion".

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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