Department, School, or Program

Sociology and Anthropology

Degree Level



More often than not, society’s attention is hyper-focused on the criminal justice system at the national level. The United States of America has been called out for leading the world in mass incarceration, and scholars like Michelle Alexander and Angela Davis, lawyer activists like Bryan Stevenson, and filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, have played integral roles in making our society collectively pause and take a critical look at our prison nation and the myriad of social inequities and injustices that manifest within it. Our nation is home to five percent (5%) of the global population but accounts for twenty-five percent (25%) of the world’s imprisoned population. Within our prison population, racial minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals are overrepresented.

Many of the laws and social policies that are currently on the books on the federal and state levels are to blame for the absence of justice and the often-blatant disregard for the rights of the criminally accused in our criminal justice system. Policy, politics, and economics shape the way criminal justice systems function and predetermine who will be most adversely affected. Yet, when examining mass incarceration at the national level, it is crucial that people recognize that the criminal justice systems of each individual state contribute to the national numbers and the narrative of injustice associated with the United States of America.

In this paper, I examine the role of retributivist and restorative policies and practices within Virginia’s criminal justice system and evaluate the impacts of these policies and practices on the civil rights and liberties of the criminally accused. I share the many stories that I have collected during my journey as a criminal justice scholar in the Commonwealth of Virginia and analyze them within the context of the very real and very troubling criminal justice system that exists within this state and within this nation.

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis (open access)

Publication Date



Senior Thesis in Criminal Justice

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jan Hoffman French
University of Richmond
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Spring 2019

Included in

Criminology Commons