It is with the deepest sadness that the Centre for Criminology today announces that Roger Hood, our founding director, tireless champion of justice and dearest friend, passed away at the John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford this morning, aged 84. Roger remained active academically until the very end and had only just completed his most recent work on the death penalty in the Caribbean when he became ill.

Roger Hood
In due course, we will publish a much fuller appreciation of a man whose contribution to the Centre, to Oxford, and to criminology as an international discipline was truly immense and spanned many decades. For now, we want to recognise his impressive academic legacy and also his humanity and loyal friendship, which, for all who knew him, make his loss so hard to bear.

Roger was a man of immense intellectual generosity, the sponsor and inspiration of innumerable professional careers. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have had him as a doctoral supervisor knew at first hand the meaning of the German term for those who fulfil such a role – he was a true ‘Doktorvater’, whose fatherly warmth, limitless attention to detail, and constant care for his students’ welfare made the difficult path towards academic maturity much easier to climb.

He was a devoted husband of Nancy, whose loss last year affected him deeply, a loving father to Cathy, stepfather to Zoe, Clare and David, devoted uncle to Matthew, grandfather to Grace, Lola, Floyd and Jay, and great uncle to Eben. He was a faithful friend to his students, colleagues and huge circle of contacts around the world. Above all, he was a man of high principle and unimpeachable integrity, an antiracist before the term had been invented, and a fierce opponent of the death penalty, a cause which absorbed much of his time after his supposed retirement in 2003. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Roger believed that criminology should not only be an academic discipline but also a resource to be deployed in the struggle for both legal and social justice.

Until his last weeks, he remained energetic, vigorous and fully engaged, still researching and writing, and making invaluable suggestions for current and future projects through his longstanding and fruitful relationship with the Death Penalty Project in London. He spent nearly two decades working with Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar at the Death Penalty Project, designing and conducting research to challenge assumptions about the death penalty and to provide empirical data to assist their efforts to bring about reform and indeed abolition around the world through litigation and policy engagement. They were among his closest friends.

Many of the current members of the Centre for Criminology owe Roger an immense personal and professional debt. He taught us, advised us and inspired us. He was held in the same high regard at his college, All Souls, where he never tired of encouraging younger scholars, while developing, over his many decades there, friends for life. His passing leaves a huge gap in all our lives. We shall not see his like again. 

Requiescat in Pace. Professor Roger Hood CBE, QC (Hon), PhD, DCL, LLD (Hon), FBA, 1936 – 2020, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Criminology 1973 – 2003.

Carolyn Hoyle & Lucia Zedner, 17 November 2020