Roberto Hugh Potter, interim chair and research director for the Department of Criminal Justice, has received the Peter P. Lejins Research Award for 2014 from the American Correctional Association.

The award is given in memory of pioneering researcher Peter Lejins and is the highest honor bestowed on a corrections researcher by the national association.

“The Lejins Award is given to an individual who has produced significant research for the correctional community and has demonstrated personal commitment and contribution to improve the profession of corrections,” said James Gondles, ACA’s executive director.

Potter has conducted research and published extensively in the areas of crime and health, and particularly in areas where health systems and correctional systems intersect.

His current research interests include jail-based re-entry programs, community corrections and juvenile justice in the region. He places an emphasis on physical and mental health issues in and interventions with correctional populations.

In addition, Potter is working on substance abuse-related problems in criminal justice. He and Assistant Professor Jacinta Gau are collaborating on a study of efforts to reduce the impact of “pill mills” in Florida with support from the National Institute of Justice.

The ACA presented Potter with the Lejins’ award at its Feb. 4 meeting in Tampa. In addition to recognizing his research, the ACA highlighted Potter’s contributions to the development of the Prison Rape Elimination Act Standards and a range of “science to service” activities.

Potter thanked his colleagues over the years and the ACA leadership for their support of his work in bridging the academic, government and practice worlds. 

“The greatest contribution academic- and government-based researchers can make is to translate the basic research of the university into the hands of practitioners, either as teachers or consultants to the field,” he said. “My hope is to inspire the next generation of researchers to do this, regardless of where they happen to be employed.”

Potter is a native of Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology (’75) at the University of South Florida and his master’s degree and doctorate in sociology (’77 and ’82, respectively) at the University of Florida. He has served as a researcher, educator and manager in education, nonprofit, and state and federal organizations over his work history. Potter joined the UCF faculty in 2008.