Jeffery T. Ulmer

Jeffery T. Ulmer
Professor of Sociology and Criminology
Director, Criminal Justice Research Center
Program Co-Chair, Criminal Justice Policy and Administration MPS Degree, World Campus

Curriculum Vitae


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

Professional Bio

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 homicide prosecution and sentencing; 3) studies of how local religious contexts affect local crime rates and criminal punishment.

Selected Awards

2021 American Society of Criminology Fellow Award.

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, Lily Hanrath, and Eric Silver. in press. “Back to Basics: A Critical Examination of the Focal Concerns Framework from The Perspective of Judges.” Justice Quarterly.

Ulmer, Jeffery. in press. “David R. Maines: Embedding Symbolic Interactionism at the Heart of Sociology.” Symbolic Interaction.

Ulmer, Jeffery. in press. “Inequalities in the Death Penalty: Race, Victims, and Geographic Arbitrariness.” In The Oxford Handbook of Sentencing, edited by R. King and M. Light. New York: Oxford University Press.

Galvin, Miranda and Jeffery T. Ulmer. 2022. “Gatekeeping Treatment: Alternative Sentences, Race, and ‘Salvageability.’” Justice Quarterly 39(6):1332-1353.

Ulmer, Jeffery, Lily Hanrath, and Gary Zajac. 2022. “Racialized Victim Gender Differences in Capital Decision Making in Pennsylvania.” Justice Quarterly 39(5):1104-1127.

Ulmer, Jeffery, Gary Zajac, and John Kramer.  2020. “Geographic Arbitrariness?  County Court Variation in Capital Prosecution and Sentencing in Pennsylvania.” Criminology and Public Policy 19:1073-1112.

Ulmer, Jeffery, John Kramer, and Gary Zajac.  2020. “The Race of Defendants and Victims in Death Penalty Decisions in Pennsylvania:  2000-2010.” Justice Quarterly 37(5):955-983.

Painter-Davis, Noah and Jeffery Ulmer.  2020.  “Discretion and Disparity Under Sentencing Guidelines Revisited: The Interrelationship Between Structured Sentencing Alternatives and Guideline Decision Making.”  Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 57(3):263-293.

Ulmer, Jeffery and Brandy Parker.  2020.  “Federal Sentencing of Hispanic Defendants in Changing Immigrant Destinations.” Justice Quarterly 37(3):541-570.

Ulmer, Jeffery, Christopher Scheitle, and Ezekiel Kaufman.  2020. “Religious Congregations and Crime Incidents:  Opportunity and Bias.”  Journal of Crime and Justice 43(2):193-211.

Ulmer, Jeffery and Kaitlyn Konefal.  2019.  “Sentencing the ‘Other:’  Punishment of Latinx Defendants.”  UCLA Law Review 66(6):1716-1761.

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.

Scheitle, Christopher and Jeffery T. Ulmer.  2018. "Profane Concerns in Sacred Spaces:  The Challenges and Consequences of Implementing Security Measures in Religious Congregations."  Journal of Applied Security Research.  13(1):29-44.

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).

Research Interests by Concentration


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

Social Institutions and Culture

religion and crime, symbolic interaction, court processes, prosecutorial discretion
Jeffery T. Ulmer
(814) 404-8338
215 Oswald Tower University Park, PA 16802
Mailroom: 203 Oswald Tower