Jeffery T. Ulmer Twitter

Jeffery T. Ulmer

Professor of Sociology and Criminology

Program Head, Criminal Justice Policy and Administration MPS Degree, World Campus

215 Oswald Tower
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-6429

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. Ph.D. in Sociology, 1993, The Pennsylvania State University.
  2. M.A. in Sociology, 1990, The Pennsylvania State University.
  3. B.A., 1988, Sociology, Legal Studies, Susquehanna University.


Research and Teaching Interests

Dr. Ulmer's interests include criminology, social psychology, sociology of religion, organizations, and the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Research Interests

My research interests span the sociology of criminal punishment, criminological theory, religion and crime, and racial/ethnic inequality and violence rates.  More broadly, I have expertise in social psychology, organizations, symbolic interactionism, and the integration of quantitative and qualitative methods. 

Research Projects

I have several ongoing projects, including:  1) a long-range research agenda focusing on differences between social contexts in court processes and punishment, and inequalities in criminal sentencing at the state and federal levels; 2) a study of racial and ethnic disparity in Pennsylvania’s death penalty, including prosecutorial discretion to seek it and court decisions to impose it; 3) studies of how local religious contexts affect local crime rates and criminal punishment.

Selected Awards

2012 Distinguished Scholar Award, American Society of Criminology, Division on Corrections and Sentencing.

2012 Outstanding Article Award, American Society of Criminology, for Steffensmeier, Ulmer, Feldmeyer and Harris.  2010.  Criminology 48(4):1133-1169.

2006 (with Darrell Steffensmeier) Michael Hindelang Award for Outstanding Book from the American Society of Criminology for Confessions of a Dying Thief:  Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise.

2001 Distinguished New Scholar Award, American Society of Criminology, Division on Corrections and Sentencing.

Selected Publications


Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Mindy Bradley (editors).  2018.  Punishment Decisions:  Locations of Disparity.  New York:  Routledge.

Kramer, John H. and Jeffery T. Ulmer.  2009.  Sentencing Guidelines:  Lessons from Pennsylvania.  Boulder, CO:  Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Steffensmeier, Darrell and Jeffery T. Ulmer. 2005. Confessions of a Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Criminal Enterprise. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Aldine.

Ulmer, Jeffery T. 1997. Social Worlds of Sentencing: Court Communities Under Sentencing Guidelines. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Recent Articles and Chapters

Ulmer, Jeffery, John Kramer, and Gary Zajac.  Forthcoming. “The Race of Defendants and Victims in Death Penalty Decisions in Pennsylvania:  2000-2010.” Justice Quarterly 

Ulmer, Jeffery and Brandy Parker.  Forthcoming.  “Federal Sentencing of Hispanic Defendants in Changing Immigrant Destinations.”  Justice Quarterly

Painter-Davis, Noah and Jeffery Ulmer.  Forthcoming.  “Discretion and Disparity Under Sentencing Guidelines Revisited: The Interrelationship Between Structured Sentencing Alternatives and Guideline Decision Making.”  Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 

Ulmer, Jeffery and Christopher Scheitle.  Forthcoming. “Religious Congregations and Crime Incidents:  Opportunity and Bias.”  Journal of Crime and Justice.    

Ulmer, Jeffery and Kaitlyn Konefal.  In press.  “Sentencing the ‘Other:’  Punishment of Latinx Defendants.”  UCLA Law Review 66(6).

Ulmer, Jeffery and Lily Hanrath.  2019. “Disparities in Death Penalty Prosecution and Punishment:  A Review of Recent Research and an Expanded Agenda.” pp. 254-280 in Sentencing Policies and Practices in the 21st Century; Handbook on Corrections and Sentencing, Vol. 4.  New York:  Routledge.

Ulmer, Jeffery.  2019.  “Courts as Inhabited Institutions:  A Research Agenda.”  Crime and Justice:  A Review of Research, Vol. 48:483-522 

Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Mindy Bradley.  2019.  "Criminal Justice in 'Indian Country:  A Theoretical and Empirical Agenda." Annual Review of Criminology 2:337-357. 

Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Mindy Bradley.  2018.  "Punishment in 'Indian Country:'  Ironies of Federal Sentencing Jurisdiction over Native American Crime."  Justice Quarterly 35(5):751-781.   

Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Brian D. Johnson.  2017.  “Organizational Conformity and Punishment:  Federal Court Communities and Judge Initiated Guideline Departures.”  Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 107(2):253-292.  

Painter-Davis, Noah, Darrell Steffensmeier, and Jeffery T. Ulmer.  2017.  “The Intersectionality of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age in Criminal Punishment.”  Sociological Perspectives 60(4):810-833.

Harris, Casey and Jeffery T. Ulmer.  2017.  “’Mighty Like a River:’ The Black Protestant Church and Violence In Black Communities.” The Sociological Quarterly 58(2):295-314.  

Light, Michael and Jeffery T. Ulmer.  2016.  "Explaining the Gaps in White, Black, and Hispanic Violence Since 1990:  Accounting for Immigration, Incarceration, and Inequality."  American Sociological Review 81(2):290-315.

Ulmer, Jeffery T., Noah Painter-Davis, and Leigh Tinik.  2016.  "Disproportional Imprisonment of Black and Hispanic Males: Sentencing Discretion, Processing Outcomes, and Policy Structures." Justice Quarterly 33:642-681

Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Julia Laskorunsky.  2016.  "The Role of Juvenile Adjudications in the Disproportional Incarceration of African American and Hispanic Defendants."  Journal of Crime and Justice 39(1):9-27.  (Reprinted in Jennifer H. Peck (ed.) 2017.  Race and Ethnicity in the Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems: Contemporary Issues of Offending Behavior and Judicial Responses. New York: Routledge).

Darrell Steffensmeier and Jeffery T. Ulmer. 2015. “Taking Criminal Opportunity Seriously: An Actor-Centered Approach.” pp. 361-397 in Challenging Criminological Theory: The Legacy of Ruth Kornhauser—Advances in Criminological Theory, Volume 19, edited by P. Wilcox, F. Cullen, R. Sampson, and B. Dooley. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Ulmer, Jeffery T. 2014.  "The Mismatch of Guidelines and Offender Dangerousness and Blameworthiness:  Departures as Policy Signals from the Courts."  Criminology and Public Policy 13(2):271-280.

Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Darrell Steffensmeier. 2014. “The Age and Crime Relationship: Social Variation, Social Explanations.” In The Nurture versus Biosocial Debate in Criminology, edited by K. Beaver, B. Boutwell, and J.C. Barnes. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Feldmeyer, Ben, Darrell Steffensmeier, and Jeffery T. Ulmer. 2013. “Racial/Ethnic Composition and Violence: Size-of-Place Variations in Percent Black and Percent Latino Effects on Violence Rates.” Sociological Forum 28(4).

Ulmer, Jeffery T. and Casey Harris. 2013. “The Effects of Religious Contexts on Black, Latino, and White Violence Rates.” The Sociological Quarterly 54(4):610-646.

Research Interests:

Criminology, social psychology, organizations, race and ethnic inequality, theory, religion

Research Interests:

Social Institutions and Culture:

religion and crime, symbolic interaction, court processes, prosecutorial discretion


inequalities in criminal sentencing at the state and federal levels, racial and ethnic disparity in Pennsylvania’s death penalty, criminal victimization affecting religious congregations