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Michael A Hallett


Criminology and Criminal Justice | College of Arts & Sciences

Areas of Expertise

Corrections & Social Inequality, Punishment & Society, and Religion & Crime.  




Ph.D. Arizona State University 


Dr. Michael Hallett is Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the University of North Florida.  Dr. Hallett has written over $1 million in grants & contracts and published in numerous books and journals including Punishment & Society, Justice Quarterly, Critical Criminology, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, The Prison Journal, and others. Dr. Hallett was founding chairperson of the UNF Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, serving two terms (2005-2013). 


Most recently, Dr. Hallett led a three-year study at America's largest maximum-security prison, Angola (aka Louisiana State Penitentiary) exploring the religious lives of long-term inmates. He has served as Principal Investigator on grants from the US Department of Justice, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Jesse Ball DuPont Foundation, and several other organizations. Dr. Hallett has chaired two academic departments at UNF (Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice and Criminology & Criminal Justice) after first directing the Graduate program in Criminal Justice. He frequently works on local justice issues in Jacksonville and has completed over a dozen funded projects at UNF, often employing students in the research. Dr Hallett also serves as a Senior Research Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.


Dr. Hallett's academic focus is Corrections & Social Inequality, Punishment & Society, and Religion & Crime. Dr. Hallett designed Jacksonville Sheriffs Office Pretrial Services Unit (drug treatment/diversion) and has completed extensive work with local organizations focused upon offender rehabilitation including Prisoners of ChristOperation New HopeHubbard House, the City of JacksonvilleJCCI and others. Dr. Hallett has also done work and research in prisons all over the United States, including most recently Sing Sing (New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision), Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary), and Parchman Farm (Mississippi State Penitentiary). He has testified before five state legislatures on correctional issues (Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon).  Dr. Hallett's work focuses on the connection between neoliberal economic change and prison policy, particularly prison privatization.  He argues faith-based programming amounts to a form of prison privatization, producing often surprising and unanticipated results. Here are some reviews of his work:


At once erudite and inspirational, The Angola Prison Seminary shows how faith-based efforts can bring light to the darkest of places. This volume reveals the capacity of prisoners, most serving life sentences, to find meaning, identity, and redemption. Indeed, it impresses upon us that offenders are not the "other" and best treated as forgotten souls. Rather, we learn that by embracing religion and being afforded the opportunity to choose a better self, these Angola inmates transform their lives, come to care about others, and display their admirable humanity on a daily basis. An important lesson, heeded too infrequently in recent times, is thus palpable: corrections "works" when faith, hope and charity prevail, not rejection, despair, and meanness. This book is a worthy candidate for the status of a contemporary classic and should be standard reading for all serious corrections scholars. 

-Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati


Absolutely do not read this book if you want easy confirmation of what you already know about religion in prison. This powerful, evocative study will disrupt any simple narratives and make you reassess your understanding of the world of the prison - a bit like the work that the inmate ministers in Angola have done for fellow prisoners, prison staff, and the wider community for the past few decades. This book does true justice to their amazing stories and so should be widely read and shared.

-Shadd Maruna, Dean, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice


"In Private Prisons in America, Michael Hallett offers a concise and compelling account of how race (and class) continues to shape the march toward greater investment in imprisonment. As Hallett demonstrates convincingly, people of color (and the poor) serve as raw material for a prison industry that produces a generous windfall for private corrections firms."

-Michael Welch, Rutgers University, author of Ironies of Imprisonment


This is an outstanding and vivid study of identity transformation and the search for meaning among prisoners serving life and near-life sentences in Americas largest maximum-security prison, in a state with the highest imprisonment rate. Through the development and support of an "inmate ministry," a whole prison is "morally rehabilitated," in so far as this is possible in the context outlined. The book is meticulously researched and powerfully as well as critically written. Its messages are resoundingly clear. I will be recommending it to students of the prison, colleagues, and especially to prison governors.

-Dr. Alison Liebling, Director, Prisons Research Centre, University of Cambridge


Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award * Arizona State University. School of Justice Studies.


Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award * Morehouse College * Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel ** For: Private Prisons in America: A Critical Race Perspective. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.


Legends, Pioneers, Trailblazers Award * Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Florida.


Sustained Performance Award * University of North Florida, Academic Affairs.


Certificate of Appreciation, UNF Office of Research and Sponsored Programs: six consecutive years of external funding.


Inaugural Class Member, Leadership UNF * Office of the President, University of North Florida.


UNF Quality Enhancement Program QEP, University-wide Winning Proposal: Community-Based Transformational Learning. (2008), co-authored with David Jaffee & Rick Roberts.


Senior Research Fellow, Baylor University. Institute for Studies of Religion. 


Member, Board of Directors * Prisoners of Christ (non-profit prisoner reentry organization). 


Member, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Resources Committee.


Management Team * JCCI Homicide Study * City of Jacksonville.  


Oversight Committee, Jacksonville Journey * Appointed to a 4 year term by Mayor John Peyton.


Founding Director, Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research, University of North Florida. 2003 - 2011.


MSCJ Program Director, University of North Florida. 2001-2003. 


Jacksonville Journey, Member, Rehabilitation Subcommittee. 


Founding Chairperson, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, UNF (2 terms, 2005-2013).


Grants and Contracts Awarded



Hallett, M. & J.S. McCoy. 2017. Grant Award, Florida Department of Corrections: RFQ -17-104 Post Release Substance Abuse Transitional Housing Services. $242,000 (~pending enrollment/3 yrs). Prisoners of Christ. 


Hallett, M. & J.S. McCoy. 2016. Grant Award, Ex-offender Services. $394,000. Jacksonville Journey/ Prisoners of Christ. City of Jacksonville, Florida. 


Operation New Hope: Offender Profile Project. Jacksonville, FL. $25,000 (three awards).


Presidential Grant Award, The Community Foundation in Jacksonville. $5,000.  Summer 2011. To expand community awareness of the causes and public response to Jacksonvilles state-leading homicide and violent crime rates. (In partnership with WJCT.)


Principal Investigator, Serving Child Victims of Traumatic Abuse: An Implementation Agenda. Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice/Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and the Office of Community Services, City of Jacksonville$50,000.


UNF TLO Award * Transformational Learning Opportunity: Exploring voter sentiments on violence and homicide. University of North Florida. $10,000.


Reflective Practices Evaluation Project: Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida. Jesse Ball DuPont Foundation. $50,000. M. Hallett, Director, Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research. February 2006.


Continuation of Disproportionate Minority Contact Initiative (2006 * Year Three). Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. $20,000. Dr. Michael Hallett, Director, Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research.


Principal Investigator/Project Director, Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact with the Juvenile Justice System. $20,000. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice & Offender Based Programs—City of Jacksonville, Florida. Center for Race & Juvenile Justice Policy ( Summer 2005, final year renewal).


Principal Investigator/Project Director, Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact with the Juvenile Justice System. $40,000. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice & Offender Based Programs, City of Jacksonville, Florida. Center for Race & Juvenile Justice Policy ( Fall 2004, 2nd year renewal).


Principal Investigator/Project Director, Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact with the Juvenile Justice System. $40,000. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice & Offender Based Programs, City of Jacksonville, Florida. Center for Race & Juvenile Justice Policy.


Principal Investigator/Project Director, Revenue Maximization for Helping At Risk Kids (H.A.R.K.): Children Who Witness Violence in Jacksonville, Florida.” Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and the City of Jacksonville, Florida. $7,500. Continuation of Serving Child Victims of Traumatic Abuse: An Implementation Agenda, by Michael Hallett.


Principal Investigator, Evaluating Breaking the Cycle in Jacksonville, Florida. Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Law Enforcement Block Grant and the Office of Community Services, City of Jacksonville. November 2002 to October 31, 2003. $10,000. 

  • See Related Article: Revisiting Anomalous Outcomes Data from the Breaking the Cycle Program in Jacksonville. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation .** Vol. 42, No 1 pps 1 – 22. (2005).


Project Director, Design & Implementation: JSO Pre-Trial Services Unit. Jacksonville Sheriffs Office, Department of Corrections. October 15, 2001 to October 22, 2001. $5,000. (After Restorative Justice Implementation Project, below).  


Consultant, Policy Matters Ohio. Cleveland. Co-Directed research agenda on private prisons in Ohio for non-profit public policy think tank. Co-authored final report: Private Prisons in Ohio: Atypical Inmates, Unimpressive Results. Fall 2000 to Spring 2001. Press Conference, Ohio state Capitol. Offered testimony before House Panel on House Bill 118, regarding policy innovation and privatization of prison services. May 2001. $13,000.


Project Director, Implementing Restorative Justice Programming. Department of Corrections, Community Corrections Division/Jacksonville Sheriffs Office. Fall 2000. $11,000.



Publications & Presentations



Hallett, Michael & J.Stephen McCoy (2019 forthcoming). Religious Identity Change Among Ex-Offenders. Routledge: New York.


Hallett, M. (Guest Editor). 2019. Special Issue * Social Justice * "Emancipatory Justice: Confronting the Carceral State."  


Hallett, M., J. Hays, B. Johnson, SJ Jang, G Duwe 2017. The Angola Prison Seminary: Effects of Faith-based Ministry on Identity Transformation, Desistance, and Rehabilitation. Oxford, UK: Routledge.**  REVIEWS: "Indispensable." "Vivid." "Powerful."

PAPERBACK EDITION - January 2018. READ INTERVIEW: Q&A with Michael Hallett.  

REVIEW: Punishment & Society (2018): "The Angola Prison Seminary is fascinating and well suited to the moment. It deserves to be read and discussed by a broad audience, especially those who aspire to transform how Americans think about and do the work of criminal justice."


Hallett, Michael A. 2006. Private Prisons in America: A Critical Race Perspective. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.** REVIEWS: "...this book is a very good read." 

Hallett, Michael A. (Editor). 1997. Activism and Marginalization in the AIDS Crisis. New York: Routledge.**

Hallett, Michael A. and Dennis J. Palumbo. 1993. U.S. Criminal Justice Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.**


Hallett, Michael (2019). Confronting Christian Penal Charity: Neoliberalism and the Rebirth of Religious Penitentiaries. Social Justice.  In: Hallett, Michael * Guest Editor Special Issue * Social Justice.  "Emancipatory Justice: Confronting the Carceral State."


Hallett, M, B Johnson, J Hays, SJ Jang, G Duwe (2019). US Prison Seminaries: Structural Charity, Religious Establishment, and Neoliberal Corrections The Prison Journal .     


Jang, SJ. B Johnson, J Hays, M. Hallett, G. Duwe (2018). Existential and Virtuous Effects of Religiosity on Mental Health and Aggressiveness Among Offenders. Religions. Vol 9, Special Issue: Religion and Crime: Theory, Research, and Practice.


Jang, SJ, B. Johnson, J. Hays, M. Hallett, G. Duwe (2018). Religion and Misconduct in Angola Prison: Conversion, Congregational Participation, Religiosity, and Self-Identities. Justice Quarterly. DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2017.1309057


Hallett, M. & M. Bookstaver (2018). 'We Serve Forgotten Men': Structural Charity vs Religious Freedom in Serving Ex-offenders. In:Finding Freedom in Confinement: The Role of Religion in Prison Life. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.


Johnson, B., G. Duwe, M. Hallett, J. Hays, SJ Jang, M.Lee, M. Pagano, S. Post (2018). Faith and Service: Pathways to Identity Transformation and Correctional Reform. In: Finding Freedom in Confinement: The Role of Religion in Prison Life. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. 


Joshua Hays, Michael Hallett, Byron R. Johnson, Sung Joon Jang, and Grant Duwe. (2018). Inmate Ministry as Contextual Missiology: Best Practices for Americas Emerging Prison Seminary Movement, Perspectives in Religious Studies. 45(1): 69–79. 


Jang, Sung Joon, Joshua Hayes, Byron R. Johnson, Michael Hallett, and Grant Duwe. (2018). Four Gods in a Maximum-Security Prison: Images of God, Religiosity, and Worldviews among Inmates. Review of Religious Research 


Hallett, Michael. Keynote Speaker, June 5-6, 2017 * School of Law, University of Sheffield. Sheffield, England. The Voluntary Sector in Criminal Justice: Setting the Research Agenda. Bad Faith: Structural Charity, Privatization, and Religious Volunteerism in American Corrections.


SJ Jang, B. Johnson, J. Hays, G. Duwe, M. Hallett (2017). Images of God, Religious Involvement, and Prison Misconduct among Inmates. Corrections: Policy, Practice and Research. Online first:


Hallett, M. Faith at Angola Prison: After civic death, a resurrection.  (April 14, 2017) Commonweal Magazine.


Hallett, M., J. Hays, B. Johnson, SJ Jang, G Duwe (2015). First Stop Dying: Angolas Christian Seminary as Positive Criminology. International Journal of Offender Rehabilitation and Comparative Criminology. Published online before print August 5, 2015, doi:10.1177/0306624X1559817  


Hallett, M. (2015). The Punitive Turn: New Approaches to Race and Incarceration. Contemporary Sociology. vol. 44, 5: pp. 677-680 (invited reviewer).  


Duwe,G., M. Hallett, J. Hays, SJ Jang, B. Johnson (2015). Bible College Participation and Prison Misconduct: A Preliminary Analysis. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. DOI:10.1080/10509674.2015.1043481


Hallett, Michael & Byron Johnson (2014). The Resurgence of Religion in Americas Prisons. Religions: Open Access Theology Journal. Vol 5, Issue 2. Pps 1 - 21 **

  • Also published as book chapter, in (2014) Current Studies in the Sociology of Religion, edited by Kent R. Kerley. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI.**


Hallett, M. & J.S. McCoy (2014). Religiously Motivated Desistance: An Exploratory StudyInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Vol 58, No. 4.  


Hallett, Michael A. (2012) Reentry to What? Theorizing Prisoner Reentry in the Jobless FutureCritical Criminology: Volume 20, Issue 3 (2012), Page 213-228** 


Hallett, Michael A. & Suzanne Zahrly (2006). Beyond Shelter: Expanding Spheres of Influence for Reducing Violence Against Women. A Case Study of Hubbard House in Jacksonville, Florida. In: Its A Crime: Women and Justice. Roslyn Muraskin, Editor. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.**


Hallett, Michael A. 2003. Slaverys Legacy? Mass Incarceration and Private Prisons. In: Racial Issues in Criminal Justice, edited by Marvin Free. Westport, CT: Praeger Press. p 39-58**


Hallett, Michael A. 2002. Race, Crime, and For-Profit Imprisonment: Social Disorganization as Market OpportunityPunishment & Society: The International Journal of Penology 4(3):369 393.**

Contact Information

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(904) 620-1644