Kappeler to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from American Society of Criminology

Kappeler photo

He ranks among the nation’s leaders in number of textbooks authored, but it’s not the quantity of his written words that distinguish Dr. Victor Kappeler.

As Dr. Gary Potter, his colleague at Eastern Kentucky University put it, Kappeler was “one of the first scholars to expose the media-state nexus in the social construction of crime and to expose the myths of crime in American society.”

In recognition of his “sustained and distinguished scholarship, teaching, and/or service in the field of critical criminology,” Kappeler, a Foundation professor of justice studies and associate dean in EKU’s College of Justice & Safety, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Critical Criminology. The Society will bestow its highest honor on Kappeler at its annual meeting in Chicago on Nov. 17.

Dr. Carole Garrison, retired colleague of Kappeler at EKU, said, “It’s not just in the volume of his prolific writings but in the theoretically consistent quiet conversation Vic has had across his distinguished career with peers, colleagues and students that have had the greatest sustained contribution to critical criminology.”

Many have encountered Kappeler through one of the many textbooks he has co-authored or his many other writings. His textbooks are commonly used by leading universities nationwide, and he is widely recognized as a scholar in media and the social construction of crime, police deviance and police civil liability, among other related fields. He is frequently sought as an expert by nationally prominent newspapers and magazines as well as television networks.

Judah Schept, who now teaches alongside Kappeler at EKU, read “The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice,” by Kappeler and Potter, while a student at Vassar College in 2000.

“The book argues that these myths don’t just promote misperceptions. Rather, they structure significant pieces of our social world,” Schept said. “These myths create our perspectives on drug use, our tolerance of failed policies like the war on drugs and the death penalty, our misplaced fears about stranger abductions , and our continued belief in the legitimacy of the prison. This book challenged me in profound, literally life-changing ways.”

More recently, Kappeler’s work has begun to focus on globalization and crime control.

“Dr. Kappeler has been the most cogent and innovative theorist among American criminologists,” Potter said. “While Jock Young, John Lea and others have given Europe a major head start in these areas, Dr. Kappeler has been quickly filling in the gap for American criminology.”

Kappeler is a product of EKU’s College of Justice & Safety, earning three degrees from Eastern, in addition to a doctoral degree from Sam Houston State University, which presented him the Outstanding Criminal Justice Alumnus Award in 2005. Kappeler, who joined the EKU faculty in 1992 after four years at Central Missouri State University, also received the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Award for Academic Excellence in 2006.

In nominating Kappeler for the Sam Houston State honor, Rolando V. del Carmen, a Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice (Law) at Sam Houston, said,” There are only a handful of academic superstars in the field of criminal justice and Vic, by just about anybody’s standard, is among them.”

Dr. Michael Vaughn, also a professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston, called Kappeler “a true scholar who has pioneered an entire area of research in criminal justice (and) shaped the careers of countless students who have gone on to be leaders in the discipline.”

Other renowned criminologists who have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society include Hal Pepinsky, Mike Presdee, Ray Michalowski, Ron Kramer, Jock Young, Herman and Julia Schwendinger, Richard Quinney, Bill Chambliss, Susan Caringella-MacDonald, Walter DeKeseredy and Martin Schwartz.

“Dr. Kappeler is an excellent teacher and is well respected by law enforcement personal outside of academia,” said Dr. Allen Ault, dean of EKU’s College of Justice & Safety. “His field experience as a police officer has greatly enhanced his ability to relate to both students and the professional field. We are very proud of his accomplishments and believe he is very deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Published on October 27, 2012