Megan T. Stevenson

  • Associate Professor of Law

Megan Stevenson is an economist and criminal justice scholar. She has conducted empirical research in various areas of criminal justice reform, including bail, algorithmic risk assessment, misdemeanors and juvenile justice. Her research on bail was cited extensively in a landmark federal civil rights decision, O'Donnell v. Harris, and has received widespread media coverage. She was the 2019 winner of the Oliver E Williamson prize for best article, chosen among all articles published in the Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization within the previous three years. She publishes in both law reviews and economic journals, including the Stanford Law Review, the Washington University Law Review, the Minnesota Law Review, the Boston College Law Review, the Boston University Law Review, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Prior to joining the law faculty at UVA, Stevenson was an assistant professor of law at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School (2017-2020) and a fellow at the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2015-17). She holds a Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Her teaching areas include criminal law, evidence-based criminal justice reform, statistics for lawyers and economics for lawyers.


  • Ph.D.
    University of California at Berkeley
  • M.S.
    University of California at Berkeley
  • B.A.
    University of California at Berkeley

“Pretrial Detention and the Value of Liberty” (with Sandra G. Mayson).

“Algorithmic Social Engineering” (with Bo Cowgill), (2020).

“Misdemeanors by the Numbers” (with Sandra Mayson), 61 B.C. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020).

“Algorithmic Risk Assessment and the Double-Edged Sword of Youth” (with Christopher Slobogin).

“Distortion of Justice: How the Inability to Pay Bail Affects Case Outcomes,” 34 J.L. Econ. & Org. 511 (2018).

“Assessing Risk Assessment in Action,” 103 Minn. L. Rev. 303 (2018).

“The Scale of Misdemeanor Justice” (with Sandra Mayson), 98 B.U. L. Rev. 731 (2018).

“The Downstream Consequences of Misdemeanor Pretrial Detention” (with Paul Heaton and Sandra Mayson), 69 Stan. L. Rev. 711 (2017).

“Breaking Bad: Mechanisms of Social Influence and the Path to Criminality in Juvenile Jails,” 99 Rev. of Econ. & Statistics 824 (2017).

Working Papers:

“Jailed While Presumed Innocent: The Demobilizing Effects of Pretrial Detention” (with Anne McDonough, Ted Enamorado, Tali Mendelberg)

“Bail, Jail, and Pretrial Misconduct: The Influence of Prosecutors” (with Aurelie Ouss)

“Algorithmic Risk Assessment in the Hands of Humans” (with Jennifer Doleac)

“A Decomposition of Racial Disparities in Pretrial Detention” 

“The Risk the Justifies Detention” (with Sandra Mayson)

“Tests of Random Assignment to Peers in the Face of Mechanical Negative Correlation: An Evaluation of Four Techniques” 

“Better Bargaining: Using Machine Learning to Decrease Sentence Disparities” (with David Abrams, Aurelie Ouss, Colin Sullivan and Brian Collopy)

Current Courses

All Courses

Criminal Law
Economics for Lawyers
Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Reform
Statistics for Lawyers



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