Jeffery Ulmer


2012 Distinguished Scholar Award

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Jeffery T. Ulmer is Professor of Sociology and Crime,
Law, and Justice at The Pennsylvania State University.  With Darrell Steffensmeier and John Kramer, Ulmer developed the “focal concerns” theoretical perspective on criminal justice decision making, and his work has been instrumental in linking the focal concerns perspective to a focus on larger social and organizational contexts of courts.  Ulmer’s research on sentencing integrates the focal concerns perspective with the court communities/social worlds perspective to empirically investigate individual-level and contextual influences on punishment.  A subtheme of this work has been to theoretically explain and empirically investigate how sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums become embedded in local court contexts and are adapted (or circumvented) by local court actors.  His other research spans topics such as criminological theory, symbolic interactionism, religion and crime, criminal enterprise and careers, and the integration of ethnographic and quantitative methods.  He has received several research grants from The National Science Foundation, as well as several state agencies.  He was awarded the 2001 Distinguished New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Corrections and Sentencing.  He is the author of Social Worlds of Sentencing: Court Communities Under Sentencing Guidelines (1997, State University of New York Press), and coauthor (with Darrell Steffensmeier) of Confessions of a Dying Thief:  Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise (2005, Aldine-Transaction) which won the 2006 Hindelang Award from the American Society of Criminology.  His 2009 book (with John Kramer), Sentencing Guidelines:  Lessons from Pennsylania was published by Lynne Rienner Publishers.