First of its kind program unites criminal justice agencies to track and review cases of error and propose system-wide improvements
The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice has been awarded $350,000 by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to fund the Philadelphia Event Review Team (PERT), which will unite the major criminal justice agencies in Philadelphia in the regular review of cases of error in Philadelphia’s criminal justice system.
“This funding will allow the Quattrone Center to expand the critical work it does in making the criminal justice system fairer and more effective,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of Penn Law. “The Center’s efforts with individual organizations have already had a significant impact, and this new program will improve the criminal justice system throughout the region.”
The award will fund the expansion of a successful pilot program conducted with Philadelphia and the NIJ over the past 18 months, and make the review of cases of error a sustainable, repeatable, and measurable process.
In addition to the Quattrone Center, the PERT will initially include the Philadelphia Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Defender Association, the Court of Common Pleas, the Mayor’s Office, and the County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB). Additional participants may be added over time. The group will analyze and prioritize cases for in-depth “just culture” reviews and root cause analysis leading to the creation and implementation of procedures throughout Philadelphia’s criminal justice system that will improve the fair administration of justice.
The Quattrone Center will lead the group in case selection and in event reviews, coordinating the group’s activities, and assisting in the recommendation and implementation of proposed reforms. The CJAB will help ensure that the group’s recommendations are implemented.
The Center uses root cause analysis — an open and honest, non-disciplinary “just culture” event review — to enhance conviction integrity. The Center’s interdisciplinary team of investigators has experience in conducting these reviews in a variety of settings, including law, medicine, and transportation.
Recently, the Center reviewed an error in collaboration with the Montgomery County (PA) District Attorney’s Office. The comprehensive systems review allowed the District Attorney’s Office develop recommendations to promote improvements in the accuracy and professional standards in the Montgomery County criminal justice system.
“In Montgomery County with the DA’s Office, and in our pilot program in Philadelphia with the police, the courts, the DA’s Office, defense counsel, and others, we have seen firsthand how open and honest event reviews can help organizations improve their practices and create a culture that learns from error,” said John Hollway, Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Quattrone Center. “This new program — and these new partnerships — are a credit to the participating agencies, who are showing a real willingness to learn from error and use these reviews as a catalyst to improve not just their parts of the criminal justice system, but the system as a whole.”
The partnership with Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office was named a 2015 Innovations in Criminal Justice Award winner by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA). Additional information on the project can be found at https://www.law.upenn.edu/institutes/quattronecenter/output.php.
The Quattrone Center 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.
Watch John Hollway discuss the Philadelphia Event Review Team below.