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Criminal Justice Month Student Profile: Lacey Roughton

Lacey Roughton
Lacey Roughton

For Criminal Justice Month, UA Little Rock is profiling some of its most impressive students in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

Meet Lacey Roughton, a doctoral candidate who will graduate from the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology in May.

What made you decide to pursue criminal justice?

I wanted to pursue criminal justice because I had a strong interest in understanding motives of crime or why people engaged in criminal and antisocial behavior. I think understanding the “why” is an important step in creating changes for better outcomes. I also wanted to invest in my future, and pursuing higher education in an interesting field seemed like a great path for me.

What made you choose UA Little Rock?

I chose UA Little Rock because it was conveniently located and offered a program that suited my needs when I began the master’s program. I enjoyed my first year in the program so much that I switched to the MA/Ph.D. program at the start of my second year because of the accessibility and related opportunities.

What opportunities have you gotten through UA Little Rock that you might not have had otherwise?

I felt very fortunate to be accepted into the master’s program in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology. After completing my first year there, I became aware of how special the experience was for me and heard about opportunities that may be available. I asked some questions about the doctoral program during an advising appointment and realized that continuing my education there would be a great option.

I applied for the Ph.D program and was awarded a graduate assistant position that funded my tuition, which made my pursuit of a doctorate degree possible. I was also placed at a local agency to complete an internship, which allowed me to gain relevant work experience in the field that I might not have had otherwise.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to continue agency work that involves applied research. I also hope to continue my personal research agenda related to police officer decertification.

Do you have any advice for prospective criminal justice students?

My advice to prospective criminal justice students would be to put in the necessary effort to gain what you want from your experience/education. Identify your goals and work toward them. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Who have been your mentors in criminal justice?

My mentors have been Dr. Trisha Rhodes, Dr. Tusty ten Bensel, and Dr. Tabrina Bratton. They have provided so much insight, expertise, and many opportunities for growth along my journey. I would also have to include Dr. Jim Golden because he provided initial access for me to start my dissertation project, which inspired a whole line of research and possible career trajectory for me.

You won one of the ADPCCJ Dissertation Grants. Can you explain the process leading up to you winning the ADPCCJ Dissertation Grant? How did you learn about it, and did you get any help from faculty members during the application process?

My dissertation is about police officer decertification. The project is examining the process of decertification in one state and factors that influence case outcomes. Outcomes are decided by a police officer standards and training commission and could include a police officer retaining their certification to work in law enforcement or permanent revocation of the law enforcement certification in the state.

The Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice (ADPCCJ) funds doctoral students to support research training, data collection, and more. There are several stipulations and disqualifiers. The award amounts vary based on a proposed budget for applications submitted for consideration and the association’s determinations about available award funds and how to disperse them across eligible applicants.

I was informed about the opportunity by my faculty advisor, Dr. Tusty ten Bensel, and started drafting my application soon after. Dr. Tusty reviewed my application and offered suggestions for improving it before I submitted the application packet. She also wrote a letter of recommendation in support of my application. I was notified shortly after I sent the application packet that it was received by the association. There was a bit of a waiting period while applications were reviewed. After several weeks, I received an email notification that I received an award.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had access to through the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UA Little Rock. I am almost finished with my doctorate and, before my acceptance into the program, I had believed that it was unattainable and out of reach.