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Dr. James B. Wells

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James B. Wells, Ph.D.

Dr. James B. Wells is a Professor in the School of Justice Studies in the College of Justice, Safety & Military Science at Eastern Kentucky University. At the beginning of his criminal justice career, Dr. Wells was a US Army Reserve military policeman, 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 a PhD in Research, Measurement, and Statistics, an MFA in Creative Writing, and a MS, BA, and AA in Criminal Justice. He has been a university professor since 1989.

Dr. Wells is an expert in training and program evaluation, instrument development and validation, and mixed-methods research. Of the sixty-five books, chapters, articles, and essays Dr. Wells has published, forty have been peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in areas related to training and operational initiatives in adult corrections and juvenile justice. In addition, Dr. Wells has authored/co-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. Dr. Wells has been the recipient of nine federal and over two-dozen state grants, awards, and contracts.

Dr. Wells has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on five different Department of Justice (DOJ) Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) related awards and a consultant on another four. Dr. Wells was recently the project director on a National Institute of Corrections project that developed a hi-tech digital Tool Kit to accompany the Women’s Correctional Safety Scales (WCSS), a battery of instruments he designed and validated with Dr. Barbara Owen, to assess sexual and physical safety in women’s facilities. Much of Dr. Wells’ and Owen’s work resulted in the publication of an academic monograph, In Search of Safety: Confronting Inequality in Women's Imprisonment, published in 2017 by the University of California Press.

Dr. Wells has also been the external evaluator on three Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants the state of Kentucky has recently received. One was 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 second SAMHSA award assisted judges, circuit court clerks, and court personnel in addressing Kentucky's opioid epidemic. In the most recent SAMHSA award, Dr. Wells evaluated a statewide training initiative designed to prepare Division of Protection & Permanency employees, foster parents, and community partners with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to successfully engage families affected by opioid use disorder/substance use disorder. 

Dr. Wells has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. 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.

The 1991 discovery of hundreds of his father's letters a quarter-century after his 1965 death in Vietnam has fueled Dr. Wells's interest in whistleblowing. Corroborating what his father wrote in his letters by conducting archival and field research across two continents, Dr. Wells has discovered evidence from multiple sources confirming a government lie and coverup concerning his father’s death.

Recent essays from excerpts of his in-progress memoir investigating the classified circumstances of his whistleblower father’s 1965 death in Vietnam appear in Collateral Journal, About Place Journal, Shift, Wild Roof Journal, Military Experience and the Arts, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, and Shift. Links to publications, presentations, trailers, social media, and other information can be found at

Dr. Wells enjoys spending much of his leisure time with his spouse on their Lexington, Kentucky farm located on the palisades of the Kentucky River. Once he obtains a publishing contract for his investigative memoir, Dr. Wells plans to retire and focus on getting the book in print, promoting, and marketing it. 


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