Personal profile


Dr. Michael Hallett is a 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, Social Justice, Critical Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, The Prison Journal, and others. He has also published in popular media periodicals such as Christianity Today, Commonweal, and America Magazine.


Dr. Hallett has done research in maximum-security prisons all over the United States and currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow at Baylor University's Insititute for Studies of Religion and the Center for Faith and the Common Good at Pepperdine University.  Dr. Hallett was founding chairperson of the UNF Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, serving two terms (2005-2013). His most recent book, The Restorative Prison, explores the religious lives of long-term inmates in several of America's largest prisons. Dr. Hallett led a 5-year research project at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, America's largest maximum-security prison, and his research has recently been featured in prominent amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court in submissions from Harvard Law School and his own. Dr. Hallett's work explores the connection between neoliberal economic change and prison policy, particularly prison privatization. He argues faith-based programming in US prisons amounts to a form of non-profit prison privatization, resulting in unanticipated and often quite positive results. An emerging focus of Dr Hallett's work involves protecting religious liberty of prisoners and former prisoners, where Dr. Hallett worked with both The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and has written about concerns over governmental religious establishment.


Dr. Hallett's academic focus is Restorative Programming, Punishment & Society, and Religion & Crime. Dr. Hallett designed Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Pretrial Services Unit at the Duval County jail and has completed extensive work for local organizations focused upon offender rehabilitation including Prisoners of Christ, Operation New Hope, Hubbard House, the City of Jacksonville, JCCI and others. Dr. Hallett has testified before five state legislatures on correctional issues in Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon and helped lead the fight against for-profit privatization of Tennessee prisons.  Dr. Hallett has chaired two academic departments at UNF: Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice and was founding chairperson of Criminology & Criminal Justice.  Dr. Hallett frequently works on community-based research projects and has completed over 20 funded projects at UNF, often involving students in the work.




‘In The Restorative Prison, Byron Johnson, Michael Hallett, and Sung Joon Jang show how entrepreneurial, transformative ideas can help to solve one of the most complex problems facing American society today. Masterfully blending behavioral science research and an expert’s knowledge of the criminal justice system, this book delivers both solutions and inspiration.’


-Arthur C. Brooks, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and New York Times bestselling author


‘The Restorative Prison does an excellent job of highlighting the positive impact of faith-based programming within correctional walls. The perspectives shared by the authors offer a fresh way to think about the effectiveness of rehabilitative programs and the purpose of our prisons.’


-Bryan Collier, Executive Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice    


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


  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminology
  • Sociology of Religion