Date of Award

Spring 4-30-2019

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Liberal Studies


Political Science and International Affairs

Department Chair or Program Director

Dr. John Kramer

First Advisor

Dr. Rosalyn Cooperman

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephen Farnsworth

Major or Concentration

Political Science


This research is a critical analysis of criminal justice policy in Virginia, specifically, the use of the Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (VPRAI), a computer application designed to help judges make objective pretrial detention and release decisions. Although the VPRAI was originally intended as a tool to further criminal justice reform in Virginia, there has been very little independent inquiry into its use. My research gathers qualitative data through interviews with professional stakeholders and former defendants to address this gap in knowledge, and identify the benefits, consequences, and challenges associated with the VPRAI. I conclude that, at the present time, it is not effectively contributing to reform efforts, and I propose several policy modifications that could improve its use as a tool to eliminate cash bond, lower incarceration rates, and produce unbiased pretrial detention decisions.