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Michael Leo OwensProfessor


  • Ph.D., State University of New York, Albany, 2001


Michael Leo Owens is a scholar of urban politics; state and local politics; the politics of criminal punishment; governance and public policy processes; religion and politics; and African American politics. Author of God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church-State Collaboration in Black America, his current book project is Prisoners of Democracy. It interrogates public policies and political attitudes that diminish the political, social, and civil rights of persons convicted of felonies and it examines political participation by such persons to restore their political, social, and civil rights. He also is studying political dimensions and civic consequences of police-policing in the United States, including police militarization and officer-involved shootings; the political movement to push states to pass compensation laws for the wrongfully convicted; the community politics of public housing demolition; and the representation and empowerment of African-Americans in municipal government, among other studies. A 2012-2014 Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellow of The Op-Ed Project, his opinions and commentaries have appeared in media and popular outlets such as The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Guardian (U.K.), National Public Radio, and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Owens, who holds courtesy appointments in the Departments of African American Studies and Religion, is former chair of the governing board of the Urban Affairs Association (2013-2015) and former board member for Prison Policy Initiative (2014-2016). He currently serves on the national advisory boards of the Georgia Justice Project and Foreverfamily, as well as the editorial boards of Perspectives on PoliticsJournal of Urban AffairsPolitics, Groups, and Identities. Plus, he is a volunteer with the Youth Diversion Program of the DeKalb County Juvenile Court.