Handbook on Punishment Decisions: Locations of Disparity, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Handbook on Punishment Decisions

Locations of Disparity, 1st Edition

Edited by Jeffery T. Ulmer, Mindy S. Bradley


426 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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Handbook on Punishment Decisions: Locations of Disparity provides a comprehensive assessment of the current knowledge on sites of disparity in punishment decision-making. This collection of essays and reports of original research defines disparity broadly to include the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, age, citizenship/immigration status, and socioeconomic status, and it examines dimensions such as how pretrial or guilty plea processes shape exposure to punishment, how different types of sentencing decisions and/or policy structures (sentencing guidelines, mandatory minimums, risk assessment tools) might shape and condition disparity, and how post-sentencing decisions involving probation and parole contribute to inequalities. The sixteen contributions pull together what we know and what we don’t about punishment decision-making and plow new ground for further advances in the field.

The ASC Division on Corrections & Sentencing Handbook Series publishes volumes on topics ranging from violence risk assessment to specialty courts for drug users, veterans, or people with mental illness. Each thematic volume focuses on a single topical issue that intersects with corrections and sentencing research.


'The nature of justice requires that systematic disparities in the delivery of punishment should be identified and condemned. This important new Handbook goes a crucial step further by also locating the sources of disparity in the hidden processes and policies of criminal justice agents and the legal system. This is essential reading for anyone concerned with making justice more just.'Shadd Maruna, Professor of Criminology, University of Manchester

'Jeffery Ulmer, leading scholar of disparities in punishment decisions, their structural, institutional, and policy contexts, joined forces with the excellent Mindy Bradley to bring together an exceptional group of contributors to this volume. Its publication is a defining moment. It will have consequences for the future of this field.'Joachim J. Savelsberg, Professor of Sociology and Law, University of Minnesota

Table of Contents

Introduction (p. 1)

Jeffery T. Ulmer and Mindy S. Bradley

Part I: Policy Choices and Mass Punishment

Chapter 1: What We Know, Do Not Know, and Need to Know About Sentencing and Mass Incarceration in the U.S. and What "Sentencing" Research Could Teach Us (p. 11)

Rodney L. Engen

Chapter 2: Mass Probation and Inequality: Race, Class, and Gender Disparities in Supervision and Revocation (p. 43)

Michelle S. Phelps

Chapter 3: Sowing the Seeds of Future Justice System Disparities:" School Punishment and the School to Prison Pipeline (p. 67)

Aaron Kupchik and Akilah Alleyne

Part II: Disparities in Pre-Conviction Processes

Chapter 4: Cumulative Disadvantage and the Geography of Racial Inequality in Criminal Punishment (p. 83)

Marisa Omori and Rachel Lautenschlager

Chapter 5: Escape From Punishment: Exploring the Sealing of a Criminal Record and Potential Disparities in Its Application (p. 109)

Megan C. Kurlychek and Heather M. Washington

Chapter 6: Discretion in the Absence of Guidelines: Charge Bargaining and Sentencing for Felony Defendants in New York (p. 133)

Shi Yan, Shawn D. Bushway, and Allison D. Redlich

Chapter 7: Perspectives Informing Defense Attorney Effects on Criminal Case Outcomes (p. 153)

John Wooldredge, James Frank, and Natalie Goulette

Part III: Disparities in Punishment Outcomes

Chapter 8: Focal Concerns Theory as Conceptual Tool for Studying Intersectionality in Sentencing Disparities: Focus on Gender and Race Along with Age (p. 189)

Darrell Steffensmeier and Noah Painter-Davis

Chapter 9: Racial and Ethnic Disparities among Female Offenders Adjudicated in Federal Courts: Explicating the Patterns of Disparities Using a Path Model (p. 211)

Cassia C. Spohn, Pauline K. Brennan, and Byungbae Kim

Chapter 10: Studying Ethnic Disparities in Sentencing: The Importance of Refining Ethnic Minority Measures (p. 239)

Hilde Wermink, Sigrid van Wingerden, Johan van Wilsem, and Paul Nieuwbeerta

Chapter 11: The Relationship between the Gender of the Probation Officer and Judicial Sentencing: Implications for Black Male Offenders (p. 265)

Michael J. Leiber, Jennifer H. Peck, Melanie Valentin Rosa, and Tayler Shreve

Chapter 12: Race, Facial Appearance, and the Focal Concerns of Sentencing (p. 291)

Brian D. Johnson and Rebecca Richardson

Chapter 13: Towards the Development of a Standardized Focal Concerns Theory of Sentencing (p. 311)

Sean Maddan and Richard D. Hartley

Part IV: Risk: Race, Age, and Social Class

Chapter 14: Assessment of Offender Risk at Sentencing: A Potential for Disparity? (p. 339)

Julia A. Laskorunsky

Chapter 15: Assessment Disparities After Federal Incarceration in Canada (p. 363)

Rose Ricciardelli, Michael Adorjan, and James Lant

Chapter 16: "Objects of Concern" or "Risky Young Offenders"? Assessment and Intervention With Children in the Public Care and Youth Justice Systems of England and Wales (p. 385)

Jonathan Evans


About the Editors

Jeffery T. Ulmer is Professor of Sociology and Criminology and Associate Department Head of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Pennsylvania State University. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University. His interests include courts and criminal sentencing, racial inequalities in criminal punishment, structural disadvantage and violence, religion and crime, symbolic interactionism, organizations, and the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods. He is the author or co-author of several books and over 65 articles and book chapters. He received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology (ASC) Division on Corrections and Sentencing in 2012, and in 2006 (with Darrell Steffensmeier) won ASC’s Michael Hindelang Award for Outstanding Book for Confessions of a Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise.

Mindy S. Bradley is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas. Her areas of research include: courts and sentencing, corrections, intersections of mental/behavioral health and justice systems, and deviance. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology and M.A. in Crime, Law, and Justice from Pennsylvania State University, and her B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of West Georgia. She was a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the author of Naked Lives: Inside the Worlds of Exotic Dance (SUNY Press) and co-editor (with Brent Teasdale) of Preventing Crime and Violence (Springer), the second volume of the Advances in Prevention Science series.

About the Series

The ASC Division on Corrections & Sentencing Handbook Series

The American Society of Criminology’s Division on Corrections & Sentencing sponsors a series of volumes published by Routledge on seminal and topical issues that span the fields of sentencing and corrections. The critical essays, reviews, and original research in each volume provide a comprehensive assessment of the current state of knowledge, contribute to public policy discussions, and identify future research directions. Each thematic volume focuses on a single topical issue that intersects with corrections and sentencing research. The contents are eclectic in regard to disciplinary foci, theoretical frameworks and perspectives, and research methodologies.

Editorial Board

Gaylene Armstrong, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Todd Clear, Rutgers University

Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati

Jodi Lane, University of Florida

Dan Mears, Florida State University

Joan Petersilia, Stanford University

Cassia Spohn, Arizona State University

Jeffery Ulmer, Pennsylvania State University

Steve Van Dine, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Christy Visher, University of Delaware

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology