Kelly Hannah-Moffat

Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, University of Toronto

Professor of Sociology
BA (University of Waterloo), MA, PhD (University of Toronto)

Professor Hannah-Moffat’s research is concerned with the increased use of risk-based technologies of governing, and of self-governing technologies, such as the empowerment that seeks to govern-at-a-distance. She is also interested in how risk-based government combines with other established and emergent penal strategies (i.e. punitive, gender responsive, rehabilitation and restorative justice) and how these new technologies impact social policy and create new patterns of governance. Her theoretical interest in risk and gender informs empirical examinations of local institutional cultures. She uses data from 500 male and female case file. Of interest are the relationships between gender, diversity, social disadvantage.

Ongoing & Future Research

Institutional Risk Practices and Diversions

This new project examines specialized courts (domestic violence, Aboriginal, youth and drug courts). It will examines 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. It will clarify how issues of procedural fairness are managed in court settings where conventional legal and therapeutic roles have been altered. This research will move beyond a specific analysis of therapeutic jurisprudence to study the range of perspectives informing the development and operation of specialized courts. The research will also focus on how risk is differently interpreted and managed in these courts to understand the range as well as gendered and racialized aspects of legal knowledges.


This study examines conditional release decision-making as it relates to the determination of risk and the manageability of that risk in the community upon reintegration. Of particular interest are the relationships between gender, diversity, social disadvantage, mental health and parole decisions. This project also traces the history of conditional release in Canada and internationally.

Risk Practices and Actuarial Governance

Tied to my work on gender and punishment is my research examining how theoretical insights on actuarial governance operate in applied penal settings, how risk is gendered, and how the application of risk has differential effects on various penal populations. This conceptual project is concerned with how penal governance has changed in particular with the increased use of risk-based technologies of governing, and of self-governing technologies such empowerment that seeks to govern-at-a-distance. Of interest are how particular transformations in risk-based government combine with other established and emergent penal strategies (i.e. punitive incapacitative, rehabilitation and restorative justice) and how these new technologies impact social policy and create new patterns of penal governance. Particular attention is given to the inequalities that are obscured and perpetuated by these statistical practices, the limits of using or adopting gender neutral actuarial risk assessment tools for use with women and ethno-culturally diverse populations, and the gaps between correctional research initiatives, policy and institutional practices.

Gender and Punishment

This research has traced the historical antecedents of the current women-centred model of penal governance employed in Canadian federal women’s prisons. Theoretically, it shows how various forms of power (pastoral, disciplinary, sovereign, actuarial, and neo-liberal) operate together at various historical moments.


Hannah-Moffat (2012) “Actuarial Sentencing: An Unsettled proposition” -Justice Quarterly  Access on line.

Hannah-Moffat, K. and Carolyn Yule (2011) “Gaining Insight, Changing Attitudes and Managing ‘Risk’: Parole Release Decisions for Women Convicted of Violent Crimes. Punishment and Society. 13(2): 149-175.

Hannah-Moffat, K (2011) ‘Women in Prison: Who and Why?’ in M. Hird and G. Pavlich (eds) Questioning Sociology: Canadian Perspectives. Oxford University Press. (Chapter)

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2010) “Sacrosanct or flawed: Risk, Accountability and Gender-responsive Penal Politics” Current Issues in Criminal Justice. 22 (2): 193-216.

Hannah-Moffat, K. and P. Marutto (2010). “Restructuring Pre-Sentence Reports: Race, Risk, and the PSR.” Punishment and Society. 12(2).

Hannah-Moffat, K., P. Maurutto and S. Turnbull(2010). “Negotiated Risk: Actuarial Assessment and Discretion in Probation.” Canadian Journal of Law and Society. 24(3).

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2010) ‘Criminological Cliques: Narrowing Dialogues, Institutional Protectionism and the Next Generation’ in M. Bosworth and C. Hoyle (ed.) What is Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Chapter)

Turnbull, S. and K. Hannah-Moffat (2009). “Under These Conditions: Gender, Parole, and the Governance of Reintegration.” British Journal of Criminology. 49: 1-20.

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2009). “Gridlock or Mutability: Reconsidering ‘Gender’ and Risk Assessment.” Criminology and Public Policy. 8(1): 221-229.

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2008). “Re-Imagining Gendered Penalties: The Myth of Gender Responsivity.” Pat Carlen (ed.)Imaginary Penalties, UK: Willan. (Chapter)

Hannah-Moffat, K. and P. O’Malley (2007). Gendered Risks. London: Routledge Cavendish Publishing. (2009) Reprinted and translated into Spanish (Chapter 1 “Gendered Risks: An Introduction) the University of Buenos Aires and Ad-Hoc Publishers in Buenos Aires.

Hannah-Moffat, K. and P. Marutto (2007). “Understanding Risk in the Context of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.” Canadian Journal of Criminology. 49(4): 465-491.

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2006). “Pandora’s Box: Risk/Need and Gender-Responsive Corrections.” Criminology and Public Policy. 5(1): 1301-11.

Marutto, P. and K. Hannah-Moffat (2005). “Assembling Risk and the Restructuring of Penal Control.” British Journal of Criminology. 45: 1-17.

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2004). “Criminogenic Need and the Transformative Risk Subject: Hybridizations of Risk/Need in Penality.” Punishment and Society. 7(1): 29-51.

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2004). “Losing Ground: Gender, Responsibility and Parole Risk.” Social Politics. 11(3): 363-385.