Don Stemen, PhD

Title/s:  Associate Professor, Chairperson
Director, Sociolegal Studies Minor

Office #:  Mundelein Center, Room 807B

Phone: 773.508.8505


CV Link: D Stemen CV

Recent Funding

2021   Co-Principal Investigator (with Besiki Kutateladze, Co-Principal Investigator; Rebecca Dunlea, Co-Principal Investigator; Melba Pearson, Co-Principal Investigator). Implementing Prosecutorial Performance Indicators in Colorado: Developing a Statewide Model of Reform. Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative ($882,633).

2020   Co-Principal Investigator (with Elizabeth Webster, Co-Principal Investigator; Beth Huebner, Co-Principal Investigator; Maria 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).

2020   Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Evaluation of the Cook County Circuit Court Bond Reform Efforts. City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance/Safety and Justice Challenge Research Consortium ($32,245).

2019   Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Cook County Justice System Dashboard. MacArthur Foundation ($525,000).      

2019   Co-Principal Investigator (with Besiki Kutateladze and Rebecca Richardson, Co-Principal Investigators). Advancing Prosecutorial Fairness and Effectiveness through Data and Innovation: Round II. MacArthur Foundation ($2,000,000).


Dr. Don Stemen is an Associate Professor and Chairperson 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, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. His current project - Prosecutorial Attitudes, Perspectives, and Priorities - with Besiki Kutateladze from Florida Internation University is supported under MacArthur's Safety and Justice Challenge


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

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.