Professor Andrew Millie

An Edge Hill professor has produced a unique new book that brings together leading criminologists and theologians to challenge accepted conventions in the criminal justice system.

Professor Andrew Millie’s new book Criminology and Public Theology: On Hope, Mercy and Restoration comes at a time when the criminal justice system appears to be in a permanent state of crisis with prisons overcrowded, understaffed and offering little in the way of meaningful rehabilitation.

The book is the first of its kind to bring criminologists and theologians together to consider alternatives to retributive punishment that draw on Christian ideas of hope, mercy and restoration.

Professor Andrew Millie said: “I first started exploring what Christian theology could contribute to debates on crime and justice when researching my previous book on Philosophical Criminology. I found that I was drawn to theological ideas that emphasised compassion and hope. I started to wonder what a criminal justice system founded on hope, mercy and restoration might look like.”

In April 2018, Professor Millie organised a seminar held at Edge Hill University that brought together criminologists and theologians to consider this possibility. The seminar was co-funded by Edge Hill’s Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) and the British Society of Criminology.

Prof. Millie added: “Out of the multi-disciplinary seminar came this book. The various chapters are written by academics from the UK, US and New Zealand, and they show that a shift in emphasis away from retribution could result in a change of focus for criminal justice, offering hope rather than pain, mercy rather than cruelty, and the full restoration of the offender into community rather exclusion.” 

Criminology and Public Theology contains 14 chapters, plus a foreword written by the criminologist Professor Shadd Maruna of Queen’s University Belfast.

In the foreword, Maruna writes: “This is the second major cross-disciplinary work produced by Professor Andrew Millie in the past few years, but it is neither a sequel nor a prequel; it is something altogether different and indeed radical. As he demonstrated in his last publication, Philosophical Criminology (2016), Millie is an expert at unearthing the roots of criminological debates in older disciplinary fields.”

The book is published by Bristol University Press on 11th November 2020 and will be of interest to criminologists, theologians, lawyers, practitioners and policy makers.

According to Professor Alison Liebling from the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, she says:  “Criminology is full of ‘theological’ ideas – punishment, justice, transgression, mercy, forgiveness and hope. This insightful book brings these fields together, showing that the deepest yearnings of humanity lead us to love and justice.”

The theologian Professor Robin Gill, from the University of Kent has called the book, “A pioneering study of what Christian theology and ethics could contribute to a more humane understanding of criminology.”

Andrew Millie is Professor of Criminology in the Department of Law and Criminology at Edge Hill University. His research centres on the intersection between criminology, philosophy and theology and he is currently working on three strands of work: the relevance of Christian theology to criminal justice; the possibility of an aesthetic criminology; and the visual culture and architecture of policing. This third strand is part of an ESRC-funded study in partnership with colleagues at Northumbria University and the Open University.

If you are interested in studying criminology take a look at the Edge Hill website to see the range of courses available – www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/criminology-and-offending.