The New York City Comptroller released a report proposing significant reforms to the city’s bail system, drawing upon Quattrone Center research examining pretrial detention and release policy. These recommendations have emerged in the wake of a recent announcement by the Manhattan and Brooklyn DAs that they would no longer pursue bail in misdemeanor cases, which has been shown to contribute to wrongful convictions.
San Francisco recently adopted a new program to provide representation to indigent defendants at the earliest possible point following arrest. This new measure arose in part due to Quattrone Center research demonstrating that decisions that occur early on in the arrest and booking process explain later racial disparities in case outcomes.
The Quattrone Center has assisted dozens of district attorneys across the nation to establish and implement best practices for their conviction review units (CRUs), which are special units within a prosecutor’s office designed to investigate and remedy wrongful convictions. In Philadelphia, new policies and procedures established by the city’s CRU in consultation with the Center led to the unit’s first first ever exoneration when Shaurn Thomas, who was jailed for 24 years for a murder he didn’t commit, had his conviction vacated.
The Center’s research on misdemeanor bail schedules was cited extensively by a federal district court in a ruling in ODonnell v. Harris County. The decision was described by the New York Times as carrying potential to “transform the growing debate over bail reform nationwide”.
In a January 2016 article in the Harvard Law Review, President Obama reviewed efforts to promote criminal justice reform during his administration. He cited the establishment and work of the National Commission on Forensic Science as one of his signal achievements. John Hollway, Executive Director of the Quattrone Center, contributed to the work of the commission on its Human Factors Subcommittee.
On Sept. 30, California Gov. Jerry Brown approved AB 1909, important new legislation that makes intentional, bad faith withholding of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors a felony. The Quattrone Center authored a letter of support for the legislation and assisted other groups in presenting the legislation to policymakers and fielding their questions about its likely effects.
In its ruling in Kuren v. Luzerne County, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for the first time recognized prospective claims for ineffective assistance of counsel that arise due to systemic under-resourcing of public defender offices. David Rudovsky, a Quattrone Center affiliated faculty member, argued this case before the court in April.
The White House Council of Economic Advisors released its report Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System, which uses benefit/cost analysis to identify promising areas of criminal justice reform that can be furthered through Executive Branch and Congressional action. The report makes use of published research written by Emily Owens, a Quattrone Center Affiliated Faculty member, Paul Heaton, the Quattrone Center’s Academic Director, and Jon Klick, Professor at Penn Law.
Work by Paul Heaton, Academic Director of the Quattrone Center, that calls into question the quality and fairness of the process for providing indigent defense in capital cases in Pennsylvania was cited by Gov. Tom Wolf in his decision to implement a moratorium on implementation of the death penalty in the state. Gov. Wolf’s moratorium was upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a December opinion.
California AB 1328, which empowers courts to remove prosecutors from cases where exculpatory evidence is intentionally withheld, and requires such omissions to be reported to the State Bar for potential disciplinary action, was signed into law. The Quattrone Center advised several criminal justice groups who sponsored the legislation as it was being developed.
The National Commission on Forensic Science recommended that the U.S. Attorney General direct forensic science medical and service providers to adopt root cause analysis as a means of reducing errors in the criminal justice application of forensic science. The recommendations of the Commission were based on advisory input provided by John Hollway, Eexecutive Director of the Quattrone Center.
The New York State Justice Task Force, a entity created by the Chief Judge of the State of New York to address the problem of wrongful convictions, issued recommendations for incorporating root cause analysis in the criminal justice system of New York. The task force’s recommendations drew heavily upon work done on root cause analysis by John Hollway, Executive Director of the Quattrone Center. The recommendations can be found here.
The Quattrone Center and Montgomery County (PA) District Attorney’s Office have been awarded a 2015 Innovations in Criminal Justice Award by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) in recognition of their collaborative use of root cause analysis (RCA) to better ensure the fair administration of justice and generally improve the criminal justice system. The Quattrone Center and District Attorney’s Office successfully employed RCA to analyze a Montgomery County criminal case in which an unintentional yet significant investigative error had occurred. The comprehensive review led to implementation of new best practices within the District Attorney’s Office specifically designed to enhance investigative accuracy and prosecutorial integrity.