Kelly Hannah-Moffat is Vice Dean Undergraduate at University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) and Director of the Centre of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies.
She joined the UTM Department of Sociology in 1999. Professor Hannah-Moffat has made important contributions to criminology, sociology and legal issues. Her interdisciplinary research on risk, punishment, and marginalized and diverse populations has contributed to the advancement of knowledge in sociology, criminology, law and social justice, and penal history. Her work has concrete implications for social and criminal justice policy change and institutional/legal reform. In addition to attracting national and international attention from academics and the judiciary, her groundbreaking research has informed the work of governmental agencies including the Western Australian Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Civil Liberties Associations, the Correctional Service of Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, the National Parole Board, and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. Professor Hannah-Moffat also worked as a policy advisor for Madame Justice Louise Arbour on the Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston and was the President of the Toronto Elizabeth Fry Society.
She has published numerous articles and books on risk theory, punishment, penal change, gender and diversity, procedural fairness in specialized courts and criminal justice decision-making. Her research has traced the historical and conceptual antecedents of gender based punishment, the unintended outcomes of liberal and formal rights based penal reform agendas, international conventions and minimum rights standards, and the structural challenges to prisoners’ ability to exercise human rights while in custody. Her research also examines the application of actuarially-based, risk models in various segments of the criminal justice system and sentencing. Her work was among the first international studies to document how practitioners assess risk and need in applied settings and to underscore the importance of looking at risk as a gendered and racialized phenomenon. Professor Hannah-Moffat’s seminal research on risk and social justice has made significant contributions to human rights, policy, and jurisprudential debates, and examines the response to a range of social problems including sentencing, parole and correctional treatment.
Professor Hannah-Moffat’s recent work critiques penal practices such as long-term segregation, inadequate access to mental health services, isolation, violations of international conventions and minimum standards, and indicates structural challenges to prisoners’ ability to exercise human rights while in custody. She reveals that some outcomes of rights-based advocacy, such as the ideal of ‘gender–responsive’ punishment, are themselves problematic, and instead proposes improved human rights and access to trauma informed programming, mental health care and more cross-institutional, community-based initiatives. Her work on systemic shifts in punishment in relation to social justice and equity exemplifies her continued commitment to examining exclusionary practices that impact marginalized groups interacting with the criminal justice system. Her most recent national SSHRC project (with P. Maurutto) examines specialized courts (domestic violence, Aboriginal, community/wellness and drug courts) and how legal practices such as bail, sentencing, and case processing have collectively changed as a consequence of the hybrid approaches used in various specialized courts.