John Kramer

Ph.D. Sociology | Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Criminology
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John Kramer

John Kramer is a professor emeritus of sociology and criminology at Penn State. He became a faculty member at Penn State in 1973.  He retired in 2015 but has continued his research and writing with colleagues since his retirement.  During his tenure, he served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing for 19 years (1979-1998).  During his tenure as Executive Director the Commission moved to the Penn State campus.  He continued to serve as executive director and as a faculty member until his resignation from the Commission in 1998. John worked with the United States Sentencing Commission from 1995 through 1998 and served as staff director from 1996-1998.  He resigned from the U.S. Sentencing Commission to return to Penn State. 


Dr. Kramer’s research focuses on sentencing, sentencing disparity, and sentencing reform. His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, the Falk Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. His research has been published in major journals in the field including Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Social Problems, and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. His book, Sentencing Guidelines: Lessons from Pennsylvania written with Dr. Jeff Ulmer, examines the history of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing’s policy choices in writing sentencing guidelines and the impact of the guidelines on sentencing decisions in Pennsylvania. 


He is working with Drs. Jeff Ulmer and Gary Zajac on a study of homicide in Pennsylvania funded by the National Science Foundation.  In addition, he is working with Dr. Megan Kurlychek on a book examining sentencing in the 21st Century.   


John and his wife of 53 years, Marcia, moved to State College in 1973 from Mankato, Minnesota. They have two children: a daughter, Kim, who lives in Boston, and a son, Chad, who lives in Olympia, Washington.