The Virginia Sheriff, the magazine of the Virginia State Sheriff's Association, takes a fond look backward in its most recent issue at the days when "criminals weren't pampered."

"Since our present (criminal justice-system obviously isn't working," an editorial says, "isn't it time to swing the pendulum back to some reasonable middle ground between 1978 and 1778?"

Articles about law and order, early American style, include one with a headline that reads, "In Colonial America Juvenile Delinquency Was Not a Problem." The story is illustrated with a color painting of a crying boy in a stock surrounded by children laughing at him.

Another story carries the headline, "Our Founding Fathers Believed in Punishment." It is illustrated with a painting of a man stripped to his waist and tied to a whipping post. Women and children look on as the man is beaten with a switch. The text of the story says, in part, "Parole, probation and long drawn-out appeal procedures had not yet been invented. Punishment was swift and sure, and in most cases, excruciating."

The Virginia Sheriff, which is sent to 100 sheriffs in the state, "doesn't necessarily reflect the opinions of sheriffs in Virginia," according to John W. Jones, executive director of the sheriffs' association.

The sections of the magazine dealing with old-time American "justice" were also printed in similar sheriffs associations' magazines in other states, including Ohio, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland and Kentucky.

Jones said the atavistic tone of the April issue of the magazine carries "no implications" about what sheriffs in Virginia think of the criminal justice sytem. He said the next issue of the magazine will be about crime prevention and will carry an editorial by Virginia Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman about uniform sentencing for criminals.