The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School is a national research and policy hub created to catalyze long term structural improvements to the US criminal justice system. The Center takes an interdisciplinary, data-driven, scientific approach to identifying and analyzing the most crucial problems in the justice system, and proposing solutions that improve its fairness for the long term benefit of society. Its research and programs are independent and unbiased, engaging all parties — academia, judiciary, law enforcement, defense and prosecution, legislative, forensic and social scientists, media and other participants – required to effect substantial change for the better.
Introduction and Approach
The fundamental accuracy and fairness of the American criminal justice system was once taken for granted. In recent years, however, scientific advances such as those in DNA testing have challenged our idealism by revealing errors in findings of guilt and innocence, with significant consequences to individuals, families, and the system as a whole. Further examination by scholars and attorneys across the nation has led to the recognition that a wider variety and higher occurrence of errors exist, eroding the public’s faith that justice is universally achieved.
The Quattrone Center will be the first in the nation focused explicitly on inter-disciplinary, data-driven policy level research and recommendations designed to prevent such unjust outcomes. Housed at the Law School, the Center will draw on Penn’s unrivaled interdisciplinary strengths, involving in its work scholars from related disciplines across the Penn campus, including Business, Communications, Criminology, Engineering, Medicine and Public Health, and Social Sciences.
The Center will host conferences, symposia, workshops, roundtables and other scholarly activities to generate knowledge, debate and policy proposals about major issues confronting the justice system. Student involvement in the Center’s research and programming will help to cultivate a future generation of policymakers and professionals. Seminar participants will include not only academic scholars and think-tank researchers, but also real-world practitioners including lawyers, law enforcement officials, judges, legislators, scientists, and the media.
Potential areas of investigation include: the frequency and causes of, as well as policy proposals to reduce/eliminate wrongful convictions; redress for victims of institutional misconduct; critically evaluating the science underlying current forensic practices and developing new breakthroughs; incentives and accountability for prosecutors (e.g., absolute vs. qualified immunity); and the roles of politics, economics, and the media on justice system fairness.
The Quattrone Center’s multi-disciplinary, data-driven approach will be instrumental in building a world class policy hub for researching and debating the system’s most crucial problems, as well as in framing solutions to catalyze long-term structural improvements. By integrating world-class scholarship from across the University with the perspectives of nationally prominent practitioners, the Center will analyze and make recommendations that will shape public deliberations and improve the fairness of our legal system. Penn is the ideal host for the Center due to its outstanding overall academic credentials as well as its particular strengths in law, criminology, engineering, life sciences, medicine, public policy, social sciences and statistical analysis—all of which will come into play in advancing the justice system to the next level. The Center, and Penn as a whole, will inspire and support collaborative ventures that provide novel perspectives on our current practices, generating applied scholarship that enhances the efficacy, transparency, and accountability of the criminal justice system.
The Quattrone Center will be led by an Academic Director–a recognized leader in the field of criminal justice policy with an interdisciplinary background–and an Executive Director with significant experience in the criminal justice sector and a record of outstanding organizational leadership. They will be supported by an Advisory Board comprised of justice system leaders from diverse professional backgrounds, as well as dedicated and informed individuals concerned with ensuring the quality of the system.