Her research has focused on prostitution, hate crime, and prison violence and grievances to explore the links between deviance and social control, the politics of crime control, social movements and social change, and corrections and public policy. She is the author of four books, including: Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights, and Carceral Logic (with Kitty Calavita); Making Hate a Crime: From Social Movement to Law Enforcement Practice (with Ryken Grattet); Hate Crimes: New Social Movements and the Politics of Violence (with Kendal Broad); and Making it Work: The Prostitutes' Rights Movement in Perspective. She is also the co-editor of Routing the Opposition: Social Movements, Public Policy, and Democracy (with David Meyer and Helen Ingram) and the author of many articles published in sociology, law, and criminology journals.
Her research has been honored with awards from the American Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Pacific Sociological Association, the American Society of Criminology, the Law and Society Association, the Western Society of Criminology, the University of California, and the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America. It has been translated and reprinted in German, Greek, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, presented at an array of professional conferences and universities in the U.S. and abroad (e.g., Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Columbia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and Mexico), as well as to the U.S. Congress and the National Academy of Sciences. Finally, her research has been funded by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the California Policy Research Center, the California Department of Mental Health, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the University of California, and Washington State University, and has been discussed in well-known media outlets, such as National Public Radio in the U.S. and Australia, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian (London).
Professor Jenness has an award-winning teaching record and has continued to teach undergraduate and graduate students every year while serving as Dean. She has received multiple teaching awards (e.g., "President's Award" from the Western Society of Criminology, “Most Inspirational Instructor” at Washington State University and the “Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award” and the “Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research” at the University of California), as well as other forms of recognition for her contributions to teaching (“Professor of the Month,” “Interesting Professor We Would Like to Meet Outside the Classroom,” “UCI faculty member who has had the greatest impact on a student’s education,” etc.). Extending her commitment to teaching beyond the university, Professor Jenness has developed innovative educational materials for public policy officials and practitioners; provided professional training to personnel working in jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities; and served as an expert in civil litigation related to conditions of confinement in lock-up facilities.
Finally, Professor Jenness has served as an elected member of various professional committees and councils and she has served as an expert witness in civil litigation related to conditions of confinement in government run detention facilities. She is a Past Co-Editor of Contemporary Sociology and Past President of the Pacific Sociological Association as well as the Society for the Study of Social Problems. She has served as an Associate Editor for Social Problems, as well as an Advisory Editor for Criminology, Social Problems, Gender & Society, Research in Political Sociology, Sexuality & Culture, and Race, Sex and Class; Vice-President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems; Chair of the Crime, Law, and Deviance section and Chair of the Sexualities section of the American Sociological Association, as well as Chair of the Social Problems Theory division and Chair of the Sexual Behavior, Communities, and Politics division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems; Vice-Chair of the Law & Society division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems; and a Member of the Board of Directors for the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Council for Sociology of Law section, the Crime, Law, & Deviance section, and the Collective Behavior/Social Movements section of the American Sociological Association.
- Field Study
- Introduction to Criminology, Law and Society (MAS)
- Hate Crime (MAS)
- Introduction to Criminology, Law and Society
- Hate Crime
- Violence Against Sexual and Gender Minorities
Selected Recent Publications
- Calavita, Kittty and Valerie Jennness. 2015. Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights, and Carceral Logic. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
- Jenness, Valerie and Sarah Fenstermaker. 2014. "Agnes Goes to Prison: Gender Authenticity, Transgender Inmates in Prisons for Men, and the Pursuit of 'The Real Deal'". Gender & Society 28(1)1:5-31.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2014. "Pesticides, Prisoners, and Policy: Complexity and Praxis in Resesarch on Transgender Prisoners and Beyond". Sociological Perspectives 57(1):6-26.
- Calavita, Kitty and Valerie Jenness. 2013. "Inside the Pyramid of Disputes: Naming Problems and Filing Grievances in California Prisons." Social Problems 60(1):50-80.
- Jenness, Valerie and Ryken Grattet. 2012. "Hate Crime Law, Policy, and Law Enforcement in California: The Presence, Content, and Consequences of the Law-in-Between." A special issue of Poinikii Dikaiosini (Penal Justice) devoted to Eglimatologia (Criminology). Athens, Greece: Nomiki Vivliothiki (Legal Library).
- Jenness, Valerie and Michael Smyth. 2011. “The Passage and Implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act: Legal Endogeneity and the Uncertain Road from Symbolic Law to Instrumental Effects. Stanford Law & Policy Review 22(2): 489-528.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2011. "Getting to Know 'The Girls' in an 'Alpha-Male' Community: Notes on Fieldwork on Transgender Inmates in California Prisons." In Sociologists Backstage: Answers to 10 Questions About What They Do, edited by Sarah Fenstermaker and Nikki Jones. New York: Routledge Press.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2010. "From Policy to Prisoners to People: A 'Soft-Mixed Methods' Approach to Studying Transgender Prisoners." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 39(5): 517-553.
- Sexton, Lori A., Valerie Jenness, and Jennifer Macy Sumner. 2010. "Where the Margins Meet: A Demographic Assessment of Transgender Inmates in Men's Prisons." Justice Quarterly.27(6):835-860.
- Jenness, Valerie, Cheryl L. Maxson, Jennifer Macy Sumner, and Kristy N. Matsuda. 2010. "Accomplishing the Difficult, But Not Impossible: Collecting Self-Report Data on Inmate-on-Inmate Sexual Assault in Prison." Criminal Justice Policy Review 21(1):3-30.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2009. "From Symbolic Law to Criminal Justice Practice: Hate Crime Policy, Policing, and Prosecution." In Handbook on Crime and Public Policy, edited by Michael Tonry. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Grattet, Ryken and Valerie Jenness. 2008. "Transforming Symbolic Law into Organizational Action: Hate Crime Policy and Law Enforcement Practice." Social Forces 87(1):501-528.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2008. "Pluto, Prisons, and Plaintiffs: Notes on Systematic Back Translation from an Embedded Researcher.'" Social Problems 55:1-22.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2007. "The Emergence, Content, and Institutionalization of Hate Crime Law: How a Diverse Policy Community a Produced a Modern Legal Fact." Annual Review of Law and Social Science 3:141-160.
- Grattet, Ryken and Valerie Jenness. 2005. "The Reconstitution of Law in Local Settings: Agency Discretion, Ambiguity, and a Surplus of Law in the Policing of Hate Crime." Law & Society Review 39:893-941.
- Jenness, Valerie and Ryken Grattet. 2005. "The Law-In-Between: The Effects of Organizational Perviousness on the Policing of Hate Crime." Social Problems 52:337-359.
- Jenness, Valerie. 2004. "Explaining Criminalization: From Demography and Status Politics to Globalization and Modernization." Annual Review of Sociology 30:141-171.