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Dr. James Wells

  • Professor

Bio  •  Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

  • Department: Criminal Justice & Police Studies
  • Office: Stratton 103
  • Mailing Address: Stratton 467
  • Email:
  • Phone: 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. 

Dr. Wells is an expert in training and program evaluation, instrument development and validation, as well as mixed-methods 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-nine of seventy-eight (88%) of the research proposals Dr. Wells has applied for have been funded. 

With respect to his justice and safety training evaluation involvement with state and federal agencies, Dr. Wells has been the recipient of nine 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. 

Dr. Wells is currently involved in three major federally funded awards. He is the external evaluator on two Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants the state of Kentucky has recently received. One is designed to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths by supporting the implementation of a full continuum of high-quality, evidence-based opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. The other SAMHSA award he is evaluating is designed to help judges, circuit court clerks, and court personnel further address Kentucky’s opioid epidemic. Dr. Wells is also the project director on a National Institute of Corrections project developing a hi-tech digital Tool Kit to accompany the Women’s Correctional Safety Scales (WCSS), a battery of instruments he designed and validated to assess sexual and physical safety in women’s facilities.

Dr. Wells’ most recent projects include: 1) 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 monograph entitled “In Search of Safety” by Owen, Pollock & Wells; and 6) a creative non-fiction epistolary memoir (in-progress). 

Dr. Wells has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. Recently he has been awarded the University’s High Impact Teaching Award, College of Justice & Safety Outstanding Mentor Award, the School of Justice Studies Distinguished Faculty Award, the College of Justice & Safety Golden Apple Teaching Award, the Alpha Phi Sigma Epsilon Chapter Outstanding Advisor Achievement Award, and 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 Community Relations Board at the Bureau of Prisons Federal Medical Center, and Mission Behind Bars and Beyond. 

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 in Research, Measurement, and Statistics. Dr. Wells is currently working on his thesis in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in Eastern Kentucky University’s Bluegrass Writing Studio. 

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