Dr. James Wells
- Department: School of Justice Studies
- Office: Stratton 103
- Mailing Address: Stratton 467
- Email: James.Wells@eku.edu
- Phone: (859)622-1158
Dr. Wells is a Full Professor in the School of Justice Studies in the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). At the beginning of his career, Dr. Wells was a correctional officer at a super-maximum security prison in Lucasville, Ohio, and later, a criminal justice planner for an architectural and engineering firm that specialized in designing correctional and other justice-related facilities. Dr. Wells has been a university professor since 1989 and has been at EKU since January, 1995.
Dr. Wells is an expert in training and program evaluation, instrument development and validation, as well as survey research. In addition to publishing over 40 articles and book chapters in areas related to both training and operational initiatives in adult corrections and juvenile justice, he has authored over 150 technical reports for various local, state, and federal agencies. He has experience evaluating both training and programmatic initiatives with the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute of Corrections, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, and the Georgia Department of Corrections. Sixty-seven of the seventy-six (88.2%) research proposals Dr. Wells has applied for have been funded.
With respect to just his evaluation involvement with state and federal agencies, Dr. Wells has been the recipient of eight large federal and over two-dozen state grants, awards and contracts. Byproducts of his training evaluation work have appeared in multiple refereed journals, textbooks, and dozens of technical assistance reports and conference papers.
Dr. Wells is currently the external evaluator on a three-year, $3,000,000 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant designed to evaluate infrastructure changes and maternal and infant outcomes associated with medication-assisted treatment for pregnant and postpartum women that are addicted to opiates in Kentucky. Dr. Wells’ most recent projects include: 1) sexual safety assessments for several prison and jail systems; 2) job task analyses whose purpose is to determine the content of police academy training curriculums; 3) development and validation of the Work Experiences Questionnaire (WEQ) to be administered to custody and non-custody correctional staff; 4) a case study examining whistle-blowing in the U.S. State Department; 5) a University of California Press textbook (in-press) entitled “In Search of Safety: Confronting Inequality in Women’s Prisons” by Owen, Pollock & Wells; and 6) a creative non-fiction book (in-progress) entitled “Postmarked Angels and Demons from My Father’s Grave.”
Dr. Wells has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In spring of 2015 he was awarded the College of Justice & Safety Outstanding Mentor Award. In 2014, he was awarded the School of Justice Studies Distinguished Faculty Award, the College of Justice & Safety Golden Apple Teaching Award, and the Alpha Phi Sigma Epsilon Chapter Outstanding Advisor Achievement Award. In 2016 he was awarded the Golden Key Advisor Professional Development Scholarship Award.
Dr. Wells is active in reentry initiatives and is a member of the Bluegrass Reentry Council, the Episcopal Prison Ministry Commission, the Community Relations Board at the Bureau of Prisons Federal Medical Center, and Mission Behind Bars and Beyond. Mission Behind Bars and Beyond is a non-profit organization that addresses the causes of recidivism and seeks to reduce the rate of recidivism among returning citizens released from Kentucky correctional facilities. Over the last year, Dr. Wells has made arrangements to have approximately two dozen EKU students trained and certified to mentor returning citizens (a.k.a. ex-offenders) with Mission Behind Bars and Beyond. To date, one returning citizen has successfully graduated from the student run program in Richmond.
Dr. Wells is a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the American Society of Criminology, the American Correctional Association, American Jail Association, and the Kentucky Association of Professional Educators. Dr. Wells has an associate, bachelor, and master’s degree in Criminal Justice, and a doctorate degree in Research, Measurement, and Statistics. Dr. Wells is currently working on his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in Eastern Kentucky University’s Bluegrass Writing Studio.