Criminal justice professor honored for outstanding service University of South Dakota Criminal Justice Professor John Gehm was recently honored by being selected to receive this year's Outstanding Service to South Dakota Corrections Award. The South Dakota Correctional Association (SDCA) presented the ward at the SDCA annual meeting in Rapid City, Sept. 11-13.
The award is presented to a person or program that has made the most significant contribution to South Dakota corrections. The work that gained Gehm this recognition was his founding and coordinating of the International Victim-Offender Mediation Association. The program brings victims and their offenders together for a face to face discussion to decide restitution. The program is a joint effort by the USD Criminal Justice and Political Science departments and the Region I Unified Court Services. The program utilizes students in facilitating and mediating the meetings between victims and offenders.
"This program is a benefit to the students at USD in that it gives them hands on experience in working with the justice system," said Gehm. "It sensitizes the students to the needs of victims; an important but often overlooked element of the system. The program also helps the students to realize that it's not all black and white, that community and academia can and should work together."
Gehm earned his Ph.D in sociology from Notre Dame. He has been a faculty member at USD for seven years. Among the classes he teaches are, Policing in a Free Society, White Collar Crime, Juvenile Justice and Crime and Victims. He is currently on sabbatical.
"It is always nice to get a pat on the back, especially when the program is not well known," said Gehm when asked about the award. "This is also wonderful for the students involved, because the program is really a collaborative effort."