Dr. John S. Goldkamp, Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University (12/20-1947-8/26/2012)
“John was one of the leading criminal justice researchers in the country” Greg Berman, Center for Court Innovations, 8/27/2012
“John was a giant in our field and all who are concerned with fair and effective justice will feel his loss.” News from the Pretrial Justice Institute, 8/28/2012
What led an undergraduate French Literature major (Wesleyan University, 1969) to a doctorate in Criminal Justice and more than three decades of high-quality scholarship carefully examining innovations in the criminal justice system and their implications for the fairness of justice delivered? Perhaps it was witnessing firsthand the May, 1968 violent confrontations between police and students in Paris while on a junior year abroad. Perhaps it was things seen or heard when working as a correctional officer at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor, Vermont after earning an undergraduate degree. Or perhaps it was something else.
Whatever the reason, in the mid-1970s John Goldkamp started doctoral work at SUNY-Albany. The School of Criminal Justice at SUNY-Albany was the first of a new breed. Developed following the civil disorders of the 1960s, the School of Criminal Justice at Albany looked at the criminal justice system as a whole, considering the connections among its many parts, and emphasizing carefully implemented and rigorously evaluated planned changes in the system. While there, John was influenced by the leading scholars in the field including the late Michael Hindelang, who co-invented the lifestyle exposure theory of victimization, and Michael Gottfredson, co-author of The General Theory of Crime. The latter remained an active research collaborator for the next two decades.
Completing his doctoral work in 1977, John came to Temple in 1978, became acting chair in 1979, and chaired the department from 1980-1983. These were important early years for the program and he was instrumental both in attracting a strong faculty and creating a rigorous academic program. He later continued to play an active leadership role advancing this vision. He once again served as department chair from 2004-2010. His efforts led to the development of an MA program in the early 1980s and a doctoral program in the early 1990s. Thanks to his leadership, the department has become one of the foremost graduate programs in the country. It recently ranked among the top 10 criminal justice departments nationally in research productivity -- for the second consecutive year.
John was concerned about doing research that mattered. And his did. For example, his research on bail led to the implementation of bail release decision guidelines in Philadelphia in the 1980s. Later, other municipalities around the country adopted bail guidelines based in part on his work. In the early 1990s, he conducted an evaluation showing the effectiveness of the nation’s first drug court in Dade County, Florida. Drug courts now function in many jurisdictions around the country.
John directed a remarkable number of research projects in Philadelphia and other municipalities. He published extensively and made substantial contributions to both theoretical and applied criminology and criminal justice. His research focused broadly on discretion in criminal justice and innovation in the courts, with a special emphasis on pretrial detention and release, the judicial role, treatment, and alternatives to confinement. Throughout his career, he published three books, more than 50 articles and nearly 100 research reports. He was successful in obtaining substantial funding for criminal justice research from a wide range of federal, state and local agencies, as well as a number of foundations.
John contributed in many ways to reviews of criminal justice policies during his three-plus decades at Temple. The most recent included the following. From 1999-2004 he served as the Criminal Law Reporter for the American Bar Association Task Force on Standards for Pretrial Release. In 2008, at the request of then-governor Ed Rendell, he undertook a comprehensive review of policies of the Pennsylvania Board of Parole. Starting in 2010, John headed the subcommittee focused on bail and pretrial practices for the Advisory Committee of the Joint State Government Commission. Its mandate was to examine several aspects of the criminal justice system in Philadelphia. The committee, chaired by David Sonenshein (Beasley School of Law), was authorized by the Pennsylvania State Senate. Its report is expected shortly.
John&rsquo's contributions have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. In 1998 he received the Pioneer Award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies. In 2003, he received the Paul H. Chapman medal from the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice for his work on legal reform, and was honored at an awards banquet in Atlanta. Before our field began using the term experimental criminology, John was doing it. In recognition of his impressive number of research projects using “true” field experiments with the random assignment - always in extremely challenging organizational contexts - Dr. Goldkamp was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Experimental Criminology in 2006. Earlier this year he was named this year’s recipient of the August Vollmer Award from the American Society of Criminology, the leading scholarly organization in our discipline. This award honors a criminologist whose “ research scholarship has contributed to justice or to the treatment or prevention of criminal or delinquent behavior.” This is the first award instituted by the ASC, in 1959, and is arguably its most prestigious.
Throughout his career, John served as a respected and sought-after teacher and significant mentor to dozens of students at undergraduate through doctoral study levels, as well as to numerous faculty colleagues. He worked closely with a substantial number of master’s and doctoral students, and served as chair or member on numerous dissertation committees.
An avid swimmer, cyclist, gardener, and Phillies’ fan, John will be remembered for his strong sense of humor, love of rock and roll trivia, all things French, and his deep and long-standing friendships. Born and raised in Connecticut and New Hampshire, he was the son of Dr. Otto Goldkamp and Mary Collins Goldkamp. His spouse, daughters, sister, and two friends were with him when his long and courageous battle with multiple myeloma ended Sunday afternoon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He is survived by his spouse, Dr. Rely Vîlcică, two daughters, Aurora and Violet, and five siblings, Marlene, Gail, Louise, Carole, and Karl.
Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (www.themmrf.org).
Contributed by M. Kay Harris, Phil Harris, Alan Harland, Jerry Ratcliffe, LaSaundra Scott, Ralph Taylor