Don Stemen, PhD

Title/s:  Professor
Director, Sociolegal Studies Minor Co-Director, Center for Criminal Justice

Office #:  Mundelein Center, Room 811

Phone: 773.508.8505

Email: dstemen@luc.edu

CV Link: D Stemen CV


Dr. Don Stemen is a Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and a member of the Graduate Faculty at Loyola University, Chicago. Dr. Stemen received his PhD in Law and Society from the Institute for Law and Society at New York University in 2007. Before coming to Loyola, Dr. Stemen was the Director of Research on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice, where he worked with state and county governments to reform criminal justice policies.

Dr. Stemen's research focuses on prosecutorial decision-making, exploring contextual factors affecting prosecutorial outcomes, and sentencing and corrections issues, examining the innovation and diffusion of sentencing and corrections policies across the United States. His research has been supported through grants from the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute of Corrections, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Open Society Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Arnold Ventures, and the Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative. 


2007 PhD, Law and Society, New York University

1997 MA, Criminal Justice, University of Illinois, Chicago

1993 BS, Mathematics, University of Illinois, Chicago

Research Interests

Prosecutorial Decision Making


Community Corrections

Policy Innovation and Diffusion

Courses Taught

Criminal Justice in a Global Context CJC 101

Criminal Courts CJC 202

Undergraduate Research Methods CJC 205

Politics and Policy Analysis in the Criminal Justice System CJC 401

Graduate Program Evaluation and Research Methods CJC 403

Introduction to Sociolegal Studies SLGL 200


Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). A Process and Impact Evaluation of Illinois’ Policy to Eliminate Cash Bail and Reform Pretrial Practices. National Institute of Justice (15PNIJ-21-GG-02807-RESS) ($632,781) (2022-2025).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). A Process and Impact Evaluation of Illinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act. Arnold Ventures ($509,708) (2022-2025).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Research and Evaluation to Support Criminal Justice and Pretrial Reforms in Illinois. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($600,032) (2022-2024).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Estimating the Impact of Bond Court Reforms in Illinois. Arnold Ventures. ($79,057) (2021-2022)

Principal Investigator. Implementing Prosecutorial Performance Indicators in Colorado: Developing a Statewide Model of Reform. Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative ($882,633) (2021-2023).

Co-Principal Investigator (with Elizabeth Webster, Co-Principal Investigator; Beth Huebner, Co-Principal Investigator; Marisa Omori, Co-Principal Investigator). Exploring Prosecutorial Discretion in the Plea Bargaining Process in Milwaukee and St. Louis Counties. City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance/Safety and Justice Challenge Research Consortium ($225,000) (2021-2022).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Cook County Justice System Dashboard. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($525,000) (2019-2023).

Selected Publications

Stemen, Don and David Olson (2021). Anchoring drug offenses in Cook County: exploring variation in sentence outcomes in Illinois. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law (forthcoming).

Meldrum, Ryan, Don Stemen, and Besiki Kutateladze (2020). Progressive and traditional orientations to prosecution: An empirical assessment in four prosecutorial offices. Criminal Justice and Behavior 48(4): 354-372.

Orwat, John, Don Stemen, Christine George, Jennifer Cossyleon, and Whitney Key. (2019). The impact of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office deferred prosecution program. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 58(2): 133-153.

Stemen, Don and Gipsy Escobar. (2018). Whither the prosecutor? Prosecutor and county effects on guilty plea outcomes in Wisconsin. Justice Quarterly.

Andres F. Rengifo, Don Stemen, and Ethan Amidon. (2017). When policy comes to town: Discourses and dilemmas of implementation of a statewide reentry policy in Kansas. Criminology 55: 603-630

Stemen, Don and David Olson. (2017). Two paths to policy: Data, discretion, and local-level problems in Illinois' sentencing reform process. Federal Sentencing Reporter 30(2): 138-145

Stemen, Don. (2017). Beyond the war: The evolving nature of the U.S. approach to drugs. Harvard Review of Law and Policy 11(2): 375-418.