Peter Lejins - more than a half century of leadership.
In reading this list of accomplishments and honors, one might reasonably conclude that a number of people were being described. In fact, this is a description of one man - Peter P. Lejins.
In addition to these accomplishments, Lejins has become known to the Association as something of an iron man. In 1936, he attended his first meeting of the American Prison Association (now ACA). Since 1948 he has not missed a single summer congress or winter conference. In 1987, ACA recognized his many contributions by establishing the Peter P. Lejins Research Award, an honor bestowed each year at ACA's winter conference.
The Early Years
Lejins attended the University of Latvia in Riga, where he earned a master's degree in philosophy and philology, with a minor in psychology. As an undergraduate, he became intensely interested in crime problems. He wrote a competitive essay, "Punishment in the Light of Ethics," for which he was awarded a gold medal, the highest honor available to undergraduates in Latvia. The essay was published in the Journal of the (Latvian) Ministry of Justice (1930).
Lejins' interest in criminology led him to continue his studies in the Faculty of Law of the same university, his principal interests being criminal law, criminal procedure and criminal psychology. After graduation from the Faculty of Law, he went to France, where he enrolled in criminal law courses at the Faculty of Law and Economics at the University of Paris, taking some courses also at the Institute of Criminology and the Sorbonne.
Lejins' studies in Paris were interrupted when he accepted a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to come to the United States to study criminology with Edwin H. Sutherland in the University of Chicago's Department of Sociology. These studies in Chicago, which included placements in operational agencies, were supplemented by stays at other American universities known for their work in criminology.
In 1937, he received his Ph.D. in sociology, with specialization in criminology, from the University of Chicago. In accordance with the requirements of the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, Lejins returned to Latvia, where he held the chair of criminal law at the University of Latvia from 1938 to 1940. At that time, he introduced the first course in criminology at the university.
Lejins and the University of Maryland
In 1940, Lejins returned to the United States. He accepted a position at the University of Maryland's Department of Sociology in 1941, to teach criminology and to develop other courses in the field. He quickly developed a number of courses in criminology, secured additional staff and was appointed director of the Department of Sociology's Division of Criminology. The division turned out a considerable number of graduates with master's and doctorate degrees; many of these graduates entered the field of corrections.
In 1969, Lejins founded the Institute of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Maryland, which was soon ranked among the top U.S. programs in this field. In 1973, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) of the Department of Justice selected the institute to be a member of the National Criminal Justice Educational Consortium. During the three years, it was part of the consortium, the university received nearly $1 million in basic. and subsidiary grants from LEAA to develop its graduate programs. For two years Lejins served as chair of the consortium, providing leadership to graduate criminal justice education at a critical period in its development.
Upon retirement from the university in 1978, Lejins was elected professor emeritus in sociology and professor emeritus in criminal justice and criminology.
Professional Activities Not Directly Academic
During his years at the University of Maryland, Lejins was active in local, state, national and international organizations and projects related to criminal justice and criminology. He has served as a consultant to a number of federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As chair of the Consultant Committee for the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, he prepared a report containing 22 recommendations, which was published as a special issue in 1958. This report served to greatly improve crime reporting in the United States.
He served as vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Joint Commission on Correctional Manpower and Training. He also served as a consultant to the Task Force on Assessment of Crime and as an advisor to the Task Force on Corrections of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. His paper, "National Crime Data Reporting System: Proposal for a Model," was published as a part of the Report of the Task Force on Assessment of Crime.
Lejins is a past president of the District of Columbia Sociology Society. He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Sociological Association. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and of the Professional and Research Councils of that organization. In 1968, Lejins served as the chief editor of the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.
Lejins also served on the Advisory and the Governing Boards of the Patuxent Institution for defective delinquents in Maryland from its inception in 1955 to 1979. He continues to serve as an emeritus member of the board.
At the time of the implementation of the Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime Control Act of 1961, Lejins served for a number of years on the Board of Washington Action for Youth, at one time serving as chair of the Citizens' Committee. Subsequently, he served for six years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Planning Organization of the District of Columbia.
As a sociological criminologist, Lejins naturally became involved in the work of ACA, at that time known as the American Prison Association. In 1951, he was appointed chair of the Committee on Research and Statistics, and later, when the committee was renamed the Research Council, he served as its chairman until the 1970s. For each annual ACA congress, he systematically organized programs reporting on the most recent and most important research in the field. This assisted ACA in broadening its membership, encouraged research in corrections and led to the rapid expansion of research activities in correctional agencies. He was elected president of ACA for 1962-63 - the first university professor serving in this capacity since 1903 and the last to date - in part because of his accomplishments on the Research Council.
In 1976, Lejins was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, for which he served as chair of the Task Force on Criminal Justice Research and Development.
Major Areas of Interest
Throughout his career, Lejins has pursued four major areas of interest in the field of criminal justice and criminology.
The integration of criminal justice and criminology. The salient focus of Lejins' professional career undoubtedly is a life-long endeavor to develop a comprehensive and integrated scientific discipline and body of knowledge regarding the phenomenon of crime as opposed to the fragmented approach to the problem of crime by a number of separate science disciplines. For Lejins, this goal culminated in the establishment of the Institute of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Maryland, which continues to provide an academic base for such an approach.
Criminal justice and criminology education. Throughout his career, Lejins has argued that those involved in society's struggle with criminal behavior must be the developers and carriers of the knowledge and proper practices that are basic to the rational control and prevention of crime. The availability of such personnel is predicated on the existence of an appropriate system of professional education in this field.
As professor of criminal law at the University of Latvia, Lejins introduced a course in criminology into the curriculum of the law school, a pioneering step at that time. At the University of Maryland, Lejins proceeded immediately to develop a number of new courses and seminars in criminology and juvenile delinquency. By the time the program was recognized by the administration as a semi-autonomous unit in that department, it had four faculty members and seven graduate assistants and had graduated hundreds who had earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. Most of these developments took place in the 1940s and early '50s, with only a handful of other universities following a similar path.
At the same time, Lejins presented and published a number of papers dealing with the need for education in this field. Through his monograph, "Introducing a Law Enforcement Curriculum at a State University" (1970), published by LEAA, Lejins helped to forge the way to change the generally observed tradition of limiting colleges to teaching criminology, and only criminology, by advocating that law enforcement be admitted as a field of study. Peter Lejins is one of the small group of people - including Vernon Fox and O. W. Brandstetter - who may be credited for creating the academic disciplines of criminology and criminal justice.
Theory and policy. Striving for a unified academic discipline that would deal with the totality of the crime problem, Lejins naturally realized the need for conceptualization and theory building. The attempt at rational organization of crime control and prevention led to formulation of criminal justice policies anchored in some explicitly or tacitly accepted theoretical propositions. The bibliography of Lejins' writings is replete with publications describing new conceptualizations, theoretical propositions and analyses of past or proposed criminal justice policies.
International criminology. His multilingual and multinational educational background probably predisposed Lejins to international involvement. As early as 1950, he was appointed a member of the official U.S. delegation to the 12th International Penal and Penitentiary Congress held in The Hague. This was followed by his serving as an official U.S. delegate in the next five quinquennial congresses, the convening of which was taken over by the United Nations under the title of U.N. International Congress for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. These congresses took place in Geneva (1955 and 1975), London (1960), Stockholm (1965) and Kyoto (1970). Since his retirement, Lejins participated in the seventh such congress, held in Milan in the fall of 1985, as a member of the official delegations of three international societies.
Lejins was appointed as one of several U.S. correspondents to the United Nations in the area of Social Defense (now renamed Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice) by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon for a total of 12 years.
His activities as a member of the International Society of Criminology led to Lejins' election to the board of directors of that society for three five-year terms. In 1973, he was appointed to the society's Scientific Commission and served from 1973 to 1978 as its president. He then was elected honorary president of that commission. In 1980 and 1985, he was elected one of the vice presidents of the society, each time for a five-year term. He was appointed society representative to the three international centers - International Centre of Comparative Criminology at Montreal University in Canada; International Centre for Clinical Criminology at the University of Genoa, Italy; and International Center for Biological and Medicoforensic Criminology in Sao Paulo, Brazil - sponsored by the society and, in that capacity, served as a member of the governing boards of these centers. At the Brazil center, he was elected and served three years as chairman of the board of directors.
Under the auspices of the International Society of Criminology, he gave lectures at four universities in Nigeria in 1974 and took part in international courses in Criminology, organized regularly by the society. As a representative of the society, he took part in the International Colloquia organized each year by the four major societies in the field of criminology in Europe in Bellagio, Italy.
Lejins served as one of the three official U.S. representatives to the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation. In 1980-1990, he served as one of its two vice presidents.
The Gifts of His Labor
As a result of this significant career, Lejins has been honored by many organizations. In addition to ACA's recognition of his contributions as noted earlier, he has been cited in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He was elected a fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences and the American Society of Criminology. He was granted an honorary L.L.D. degree from Eastern Kentucky University and was selected by the University of Chicago for its professional achievement award for alumni. He was elected a distinguished member of the Phi Kappa Phi honorary society at the national level. Recently he was elected to honorary membership in the Academy of Science for the Republic of Latvia.
Lejins has set a standard for which all of us in corrections should strive. His dedication to his field, his integrity, his commitment to quality and his dedication to achieving excellence in corrections and in criminology have been the hallmark of a 50-year career. He continues to be active in ACA, recently having been selected for membership on the International Relations Committee. When reviewing the recent history of corrections and of criminology in the United States, one can see just how central Lejins has been to developments in these fields.
Charles Wellford is chairman of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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|Title Annotation:||former president of the American Correctional Association|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1995|
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