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$15 Million Gift will fund new Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at Penn Law

May 28, 2013

The University of Pennsylvania Law School has received a $15 million gift to establish the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, a national research and policy hub created to catalyze long-term structural improvements to the US criminal justice system.

The University of Pennsylvania Law School has received a $15 million gift to establish the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, a national research and policy hub created to catalyze long-term structural improvements to the US criminal justice system.

The Center will take 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. It will conduct independent, unbiased research and programs, engaging all parties—academia, judiciary, law enforcement, defense attorneys, prosecutors, legislators, forensic and social scientists, media, and other participants – required to effect substantial change for the better.

The Center’s initial funding comes from The Frank and Denise Quattrone Foundation, whose trustees Frank Quattrone W’77 and his wife Denise Foderaro SAMP’78 are Penn graduates and Philadelphia natives.

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 nationwide 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 research and policy recommendations designed to prevent such unjust outcomes.  

“The Quattrone Center is being established with one fundamental purpose: to advance the fairness of our justice system by deepening our understanding of the most crucial issues affecting its performance and proposing improvements that will ensure a just process for all,” said Law School Dean Michael A. Fitts. “It will extend to justice the same revolution in evidence-based approaches and outcomes that are already taking place in medicine and education, by evaluating the justice system broadly to determine why systemic problems occur and how best to address them for the long term.”

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 is uniquely structured,” said University President Amy Gutmann. “By integrating world-class scholarship from across the University with the perspectives of nationally prominent practitioners, the Center will formulate analysis and recommendations that will shape public deliberations and improve the fairness of our legal system.”

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 or 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 (for example, absolute vs. qualified immunity); and the roles of politics, economics, and the media on justice system fairness.

The Quattrone Center builds on Penn Law’s unsurpassed reputation for generating interdisciplinary legal scholarship. Its nine centers and institutes expand and integrate knowledge across disciplines, attracting scholars and experts from around Penn and across the globe. A nationwide search for its Academic Director is underway, and the Center will assemble a national Advisory Board of prominent individuals drawn from diverse professional backgrounds. It is expected to conduct its first symposium in the 2013-14 academic year. 

“Our system of justice may very well be the best in the world, but with each passing day the frequency and sometimes tragic consequences of its mistakes, as well as the risk of random unfair outcomes for all Americans, are becoming better understood,” said Mr. Quattrone.  “It is our profound wish that this new Center will serve as a world class policy hub for researching and debating the system’s most crucial problems, as well as in developing concrete, credible, evidence-based solutions to catalyze long-term structural improvements.”

Ms.  Foderaro commented, “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 Frank and Denise Quattrone Foundation was established in 2002 by Frank Quattrone and Denise Foderaro to improve the human condition through technological, social and artistic innovation. The Foundation provides grants for educational scholarships, medical research, science and technology, social justice, a healthy environment and the arts. The Foundation has long supported Penn and its educational mission, most recently contributing a major gift to the new Singh Center for Nanotechnology Center in Penn’s Engineering School.

Mr. Quattrone is co-founder and CEO of Qatalyst Group, a global independent investment bank that advises technology companies on mergers & acquisitions. He is Chair Emeritus and a member of the board of The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, and Chair Emeritus of the Advisory Board of the Northern California Innocence Project.

Ms. Foderaro, an Occupational Therapist, is an advocate for many social justice organizations including the Innocence Project, and is a research assistant for the National Registry of Exonerations.  She was co-chair of the Major Gift Committee of Penn’s recent Making History Campaign.