A group of University Law students is hosting a week-long event to raise awareness and promote action against mass incarceration among law students and the student body as a whole.
The student group Virginia Law in Prison Project is co-sponsoring Student Week Against Mass Incarceration with the National Lawyers Guild and the Black Law Students Association. The VLPP and the BLSA are both student-run organizations within the University, while the National Lawyers Guild is a larger organization.
Tex Pasley, a second-year Law student and board member of the University’s chapter of the guild, said the group focuses on protecting the rights of the less fortunate.
He called the guild “a group of lawyers and law students who focus on prioritizing human rights over property rights.”
He also said Mass Incarceration Week is a nationwide event sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild.
“We’re just one of many law schools hosting events this week,” Pasley said.
One of the events which have been held throughout the week featured David R. Dow, Cullen professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center, who gave a lecture Monday regarding the issue of mass incarceration.
He focused on mental health issues and the death penalty, specifically examining the role of mental health in a prisoner’s moral culpability for a crime.
Dow said he was impressed by the turnout for the event and students’ interest in the subject.
“The students were extremely attentive and asked excellent questions,” Dow said in an email statement.
The organizations sponsoring the week-long event are also hosting a letter-writing campaign in Williams Hall. Pasley said the turnout has been good, and 22 people have written letters supporting prisoners so far.
Dow said he believes the issue of mass incarceration can sometimes be neglected because many law students may not have any personal experience with incarceration.
“I think [Mass Incarceration] Week is a promising approach to educate law students about a critically important but frequently ignored corner of the legal landscape,” Dow said.