Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel R. Lee, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dennis Giever, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bitna Kim, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Beth Mabry, Ph.D.


This study examines judicial decision-making in the Wisconsin circuit courts through the sentencing decisions of incarceration type and sentence length to describe the social construction of sentencing processes within the courtroom workgroup environment. An electronic and traditional mail survey design was utilized to gather information from judges about their sentencing practices to determine whether situated identity theory aids in the understanding of sentencing decisions. Analysis included independent t-tests and chi-square tests of independence to determine the connections between the independent variables of judicial characteristics, courtroom workgroup participants, and situated identity factors and the dependent variables of incarceration type and sentence length. The results demonstrated that sentencing decisions are social constructed within Wisconsin circuit courts. Limited support was found for the three hypotheses, but descriptive statistics illustrated courtroom participants and judicial situated identities aid in the development of sentencing practices and that situated identity theory is an appropriate tool to help decipher the social construction of judicial decision-making.