Informing Policy Debates Regarding Cash Bail

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.

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Addressing Racial Disparities Through Better Indigent Defense

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.

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Enabling Prosecutors to Implement Effective Conviction Review Units

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.

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Promoting a Fair and Effective Pretrial System

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”.

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Strengthening Forensic Science and Identifying Wrongful Convictions

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.

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Enhancing Prosecutorial Quality by Deterring Intentional Misconduct

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.

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Preventing Error by Promoting an Effective Public Defense System

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.

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Providing an Economic Rationale for Criminal Justice Reform

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.

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