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Denise Leifker

Department Chair of Criminal Justice and Sociology, Director of Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
I bring a passion for the criminal justice system and experience in many aspects of the criminal justice field.


In the last 15 years,  I have spent half of my time in the criminal justice field and the other half in academia. I have worked as a Special Agent with the Division of Criminal Investigation in South Dakota, and also as an adult and juvenile probation officer at the county and federal levels.  I have been at Simpson College since the summer of 2014 and absolutely love teaching students through experience and passion.  My research interests presently lie with sentencing practices, to include probation reports, problem solving courts and other therapeutic options.  Additionally, I am working on evaluating curriculum for the training of law enforcement officers.  I currently teach various criminal justice courses in law enforcement, courts, and corrections, along with the departmental field experience.  


  • Courts
  • Corrections
  • Law Enforcement


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice, May 2009
  • Dissertation: “The Sentencing Recommendation of the Probation Officer: What Does it Really Mean?: Findings from One Small County in California.”
  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, May 2002
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, May 2000
  • University of Wisconsin- Platteville


  • Book Review (2013) “Prosecution Complex: America's Race to Convict and Its Impact on the Innocent” by Daniel S. Medwed. Criminal Justice Review, March 2013, 38: 134-135; DOI:10.1177/0734016812454877.
  • Leifker, D. & Sample, L. (2011) Probation Recommendations and Sentences Received: The Association between the Two and the Factors that Affect Recommendations, Criminal Justice Policy Review, 22, 494-517; DOI:10.1177/0887403410388405.
  • Leifker, D. and Sample, L. (2010 Journal of Crime and Justice, 33, 127-151.
    “Investigating Anti-Sikh Discrimination in a Post-9/11 World” Sikh Spectrum (2006) Do Judges Follow Sentencing Recommendations, or Do Recommendations Simply Reflect what Judges Want to Hear?  An Examination of One State Court,
  • Book Review (2001) “No Safe Haven: Stories of Women in Prison” by Lori B. Girshick in Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice