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Karen Sowers

Psychiatry, criminal law, mental health and drug law, public health law, bioethics, human rights and psychiatry, death penalty, aging and the law, insanity and competency

Institute of Law,
Psychiatry and Public Policy


Richard J. Bonnie

Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law
Class of 1941 Research Professor of Law
Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences
Director, Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy
Professor of Public Policy, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

LL.B., University of Virginia School of Law, 1969
B.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1966

Professor Richard Bonnie teaches and writes about criminal law, bioethics and public policies relating to mental health, substance abuse, aging and public health.

Bonnie has been actively involved in public service throughout his career. Among many other positions, he has been associate director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1971-73); secretary of the first National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (1975- 80); chair of Virginia's State Human Rights Committee responsible for protecting rights of persons with mental disabilities (1979-85), chief advisor for the ABA Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards Project (1981-88) and chair of the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform established by the chief justice of Virginia (2006-11).

Bonnie has served as an advisor to the American Psychiatric Association Council on Psychiatry and Law since 1979, received the APA's Isaac Ray Award in 1998 for contributions to the field of forensic psychiatry, and was awarded a special presidential commendation in 2003 for his contributions to American psychiatry. He has also served on three MacArthur Foundation Research Networks on Mental Health and the Law (1988-96), Mandated Community Treatment (2000-2010) and Law and Neuroscience (since 2008).

In 1991, Bonnie was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. He has chaired numerous National Academy studies on subjects ranging from elder mistreatment to underage drinking, including the landmark report, Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation (2007). Most recently, he chaired major studies on juvenile justice reform (20013) and the health and well-being of young adults (2014). He received the Yarmolinsky Medal in 2002 for his contributions to the National Academies and was elected to the America Law Institute in 2014.

In 2007, Bonnie received the University of Virginia's highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award.

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