Center for Criminal Justice

Center for Criminal Justice

Center for Criminal Justice

Police car on a city street

Road to Reform

Faculty and student efforts at the Law School are generating ideas and action on reform in the criminal justice system.

Feb. 16, 2021

Op-ed: What Biden Can Do About Bad Policing (Los Angeles Times)

One of the big campaign promises Joe Biden made last summer as Americans took to the streets to demand racial justice was policing reform. He had to walk a careful line between activists who wanted to defund the police and many others who wanted to make more modest adjustments to police policies. Now, caught in the middle, the risk is the new administration might end up accomplishing far less than it should. More

Dec. 17, 2020

Policing Priorities for the New Administration

The Policing Project at New York University School of Law and the Center for Criminal Justice at the University of Virginia School of Law have released recommendations the new administration can pursue as part of a national commitment to sound policing, largely by taking a regulatory approach to national policing policy.
Read the Report | Story

July 31, 2020

Professor Leads Efforts To Reform Pretrial Detention

Professor Josh Bowers recently helped craft model legislation meant to reduce pretrial detention, which disproportionately affects poorer defendants, that he hopes becomes standard language across the nation.

Bowers is the lead reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s Pretrial Release and Detention Committee. In July, the commission released its proposal as The Uniform Pretrial Release and Detention Act, which is meant to guide judicial decision-making. Read the Act

July 30, 2020

Black Economists Working on Criminal Justice Concerns

Professor Megan Stevenson is part of a project helping to draw focus to the numerous Black economists who are researching and weighing in on matters of criminal justice. The reading list was designed to be a resource for scholars, journalists and policymakers. View List

June 10, 2020

A Coalition for Reform

A coalition of criminal justice scholars, including Rachel Harmon, released a list of reforms to address problems in American policing.

The authors’ report, “Changing the Law to Change Policing: First Steps,” explains why the structure and governance of policing should be rethought, while looking at the appropriate role of police in achieving public safety. Full Story

April 14, 2020

Changing Innocence Policy in Virginia

Wrongly convicted people in Virginia now have a much better shot at overturning their convictions because of the policy efforts of the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia School of Law.  

As part of sweeping criminal justice reforms signed by Gov. Ralph Northam over the weekend, the threshold for the Virginia Court of Appeals to grant a writ of actual innocence has been lowered in cases not involving biological evidence. Full Story

March 3, 2020

Teaching the Law of Sexual Assault Key to Reform, Says Coughlin

Teaching the law of sexual assault, though a difficult topic for students and professors alike, is still a critical step on the path to reforming such laws, Professor Anne Coughlin explains on the latest “Common Law” podcast. Full Story

Feb. 18, 2020

A Prosecutor Discusses Criminal Justice Reform

Prosecutors across the country are rethinking their roles in how to make communities safer, former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance ’85 explains on the latest “Common Law,” a podcast of UVA Law. Full Story

Dec. 17, 2019

Professor Proposes Fighting Hate With Economics

If we have stringent federal hate crime laws, why don’t they seem to be working as a deterrent?

Professor Andrew Hayashi says in a new paper that preventing hate crimes will require doing more to address the animus behind the acts — and using economics in a way that currently isn’t being applied. Full Story

Oct. 23, 2019

Is ‘Free Heroin’ the Answer to the Opioid Crisis?

Professor Josh Bowers has written a provocative new paper, informed by his past work, that offers an unexpected recommendation in light of the current opioid crisis: provide free, supervised drug use. Full Story

April 8, 2019

Professors’ New Work Looks at Economic Disparity in Criminal Justice

Two new papers by UVA Law professors look at how indigent defendants face more obstacles than others in the justice system, and possible solutions to the problem.

Professor John Monahan and his colleagues have found that risk assessment tools may influence judges to grant probation to poor defendants less often than to more affluent ones.

Professor Darryl Brown ’90, meanwhile, argues that paying a fee for a trial could work to the advantage of poorer defendants. Full Story

April 5, 2019

UVA Law Alums Help End Driver’s License Suspension

More than 627,000 Virginians with unpaid court fines and costs will have their driver’s licenses reinstated this summer following voting that took place in the General Assembly on Wednesday. The decision effectively wraps up a multiyear public interest campaign that was led, in large part, by alumni of UVA Law. Full Story


Rachel Harmon