Josh Bowers

  • Professor of Law
Josh Bowers joined the law faculty in 2008 as an associate professor of law. His primary teaching and research interests are in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, legal theory and constitutional law. Bowers has written numerous articles, essays and book chapters on police and prosecutorial discretion, plea bargaining, misdemeanor enforcement and adjudication, drug courts, drug policy reform, life without parole, capital punishment, grand juries, pretrial release and the right to counsel. His work has been published in several books and journals, including the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the UCLA Law Review and the Stanford Law Review. He is the lead reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s “Alternatives to Bail” Committee, and he serves as a founding member of the Civilian Review Board for the City of Charlottesville, which engages in oversight of the Charlottesville Police Department.
Bowers attended New York University School of Law, where he was a notes editor of the New York University Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. After law school, he clerked for Judge Dennis Jacobs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He practiced law as an associate for Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg P.C., a boutique white-collar criminal defense firm, and also as a staff attorney for the Bronx Defenders, a community-based public defender organization. From 2006-08, he was a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.



  • J.D.
    New York University School of Law
  • B.A.
    University of Wisconsin

Works in Progress

Book Chapters

Mandatory Life and the Death of Equitable Discretion, in Life Without Parole: America’s New Death Penalty?, NYU Press, 25–65 (2012).
Accuracy and Legitimacy, in Criminal Law Conversations, Oxford University Press, 556–558 (2009).
Grand-Jury Nullification: Black Power in the Charging Decision, in Criminal Law Conversations, Oxford University Press, 578–579 (2009).

Articles & Reviews

McCleskey Accused: Justice Powell and the Moral Price of Institutional Pride, 1 The American Journal of Law and Equality 1–43 (2022).
Annoy No Cop, 166 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 129–212 (2017).
Upside-Down Juries, 111 Northwestern University Law Review 1655–1676 (2017).
White Paper of Democratic Criminal Justice (with Laura I. Appleman et al.), 111 Northwestern University Law Review 1693–1705 (2017).
Plea Bargaining’s Baselines, 57 William & Mary Law Review 1083–1146 (2016).
Two Rights to Counsel, 70 Washington & Lee Law Review 1133–1172 (2013).
Blame by Proxy: Political Retributivism & Its Problems, A Response to Dan Markel, 1 Virginia Journal of Criminal Law 135–165 (2012).
Lafler, Frye, and the Subtle Art of Winning by Losing, 25 Federal Sentencing Reporter 126–130 (2012).
The Normative Case for Normative Grand Juries, 47 Wake Forest Law Review 319–359 (2012).
The Unusual Man in the Usual Place, 157 University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra 260–274 (2009).
Contraindicated Drug Courts, 55 UCLA Law Review 783–836 (2008).
Punishing the Innocent, 156 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1117–1180 (2008).
Grassroots Plea Bargaining, 91 Marquette Law Review 85–122 (2007).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

The Case for Compassionate Policing, University of Virginia Magazine 49 (2015).


Dismantling Mass Incarceration Through Restorative Justice

Featured Scholarship