Justice System

Virginia’s laws and processes in administering the death penalty can and should be improved.  That’s according to a report unveiled through a project sponsored by the American Bar Association.

The goal of the Death Penalty Assessment Team’s findings is to reduce the risk of wrongful conviction or execution.

The purpose of the report was not to oppose or support capital punishment, according to Team member and former Attorney General Mark Earley.

A defendant who’s charged with committing a sex offense against a child may have his previous convictions used against him in court under legislation that’s being considered by the Virginia State Crime Commission. 

The bill’s opponents say that acknowledging prior convictions or negative character traits during a trial has the potential to prejudice a jury against a defendant.  Some lawmakers believe current state law does not strike the right balance to secure justice for victimized children.

Forensic Dye Research

Aug 22, 2013
University of Virginia School of Nursing

When a woman reports a rape, she is given a forensic evidence exam--known informally, as a rape kit. 

But the rape kits used by hospitals all over the country are using a technique that puts women with dark skin at a disadvantage.  


Recently a jury in Spotsylvania County awarded a family more than $1.4 million dollars in a negligence suit against a local nursing home. The facility has a history of safety violations.

Joseph Roberts Junior, a 47-year-old veteran, arrived at the Carriage Hill Nursing and Rehab Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia in May 2011. He had broken his hip and had a host of other medical conditions -- including numbness and paralysis on one side. He was taking pain killers for severe back trouble and was being treated for depression.

Anti-Shackling Regulations

Jul 29, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union and a church-based group called the Family Foundation don’t agree about many things, but they’ve found common ground on a surprising issue involving prison inmates.

State prisons routinely handcuff inmates when they’re taken outside prison walls, and jails may use shackles to prevent escape, but there’s a growing chorus of protest over such treatment for pregnant women.  Some have been forced to deliver babies with their ankles in chains, but Abigail Turner – a lawyer for the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville says that may soon change.