Lemke brings practical knowledge to criminal justice department

Photo courtesy of Lakeland.edu

Richard Lemke

Katie Amundsen, Staff Reporter

The fall semester has brought on some change within the Criminal Justice department. New professor Dr. Richard Lemke has stepped into the place of former professor Hilary Estes.

Estes decided to leave Lakeland to pursue other career opportunities and has since moved to the St. Louis area, according to Katie Culotta, assistant professor of criminal justice. It was after this notice that, as many in the Lakeland community know, Estes was diagnosed with cancer.

Culotta and other staff members had only one year to decide on a worthy candidate to fill Estes’ role, and it was eventually decided that Dr. Lemke would be the man for the job.

“His interest areas were very similar to Hilary Estes’ interest areas,” said Culotta, of who believed Lemke would be able to easily take over the classes Estes had previously taught. She also said that Lemke had the “potential to reach students on a critical level, really make them think more about the topics than they did before, and I really felt that our students needed that challenge.”

Lemke earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he engaged in research at an alcohol studies lab and an auditory perception lab, becoming truly interested in research. He earned his Masters in Forensic Psychology from Castleton College and his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and Criminology from the University of Cincinnati.

Lemke said that his interest in Criminal Justice began “both by default and interest.” His original interest was in dual diagnosis (individuals who suffer both addiction and mental illness), and he found that he had to be familiar with the criminal justice system in order to do this. His interests grew to include prison work and release work, dealing with former convicts returning to their communities.

Before coming to Lakeland, Lemke lived in Georgia for three and a half years, where he took on his first full-time position as an assistant professor at the University of West Georgia. While there, he and his colleagues created surveys that looked at people’s perceptions about crime and their fear of victimization.

“West Georgia and Lakeland are similar in some aspects,” said Lemke. He says the quality of students at each school has been exceedingly high and that he enjoys teaching students who have direct access to their professors and whom aren’t lost among a multitude of big classes.

In regard to Lakeland, Lemke said, “I like the culture that I find…it’s a very engaging and welcoming culture.”

Lemke has been approached by students, staff, and faculty alike, all of whom have made him feel welcomed and a part of the family in the few months since his arrival. Lemke, who was born in Wisconsin, is also enjoying being back in his home state.

Overall, Lemke seeks to use his experience in research to benefit his students. Through interviewing almost 2,000 offenders in the state of Ohio, he helped create the ORAS, or Ohio Risk Assessment System, which is now public domain.

It is this practical experience that he brings to Lakeland, to show that what is taught in his classes can be directly applied in specific job fields and that students can make a difference through education in criminal justice.

Focused on students, Lemke says “I’m here to create a more diverse view of what their degree can give them.”



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