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John Legend, award-winning musician and activist for criminal justice reform, joins Quattrone Center Advisory Board

April 12, 2017

The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School is proud to announce that singer-songwriter, film and TV producer, criminal justice reform advocate, and University of Pennsylvania alumnus John Legend C’99 is joining the Center’s Advisory Board.

Legend is the winner of 10 Grammy awards for his music, along with an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for “Glory,” featured in the motion picture Selma. His new critically acclaimed fifth studio album, DARKNESS AND LIGHT, wrestles with themes of equality, justice and love. Legend is deeply involved in issues of education and criminal justice reform. After several years working in the K-12 education space to provide access to quality of education for our most disadvantaged kids, Legend, along with his longtime business partner and manager, Ty Stiklorius C’97 WG’03, founded #FREEAMERICA — a campaign designed to change the national conversation of our country’s misguided policies and to make a change in America’s criminal justice system.

“I am thrilled to be working with my alma mater on critical issues facing our criminal justice system,” said Legend. “The Quattrone Center brings together insights from different disciplines and focuses on the tangible results of reform. I look forward to joining them in these significant efforts.”

“For decades, success for prosecutors has largely been defined in terms of wins and convictions,” said Stiklorius. “We’re excited to work with the Quattrone Center, one of the nation’s preeminent criminal justice research and policy centers, to think about the metrics used to assess long-term health and safety of our communities, and apply both quantitative and qualitative research to empower advocates in the criminal justice system.”

The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice is a national research and policy hub created to catalyze long-term structural improvements to the U.S. criminal justice system. The Center takes an interdisciplinary, data-driven, “systems approach” to identify and analyze the most crucial problems in the justice system, and propose solutions that prevent errors and improve fairness. Its research and programs are independent and unbiased, engaging all parties required to effect substantial change for the better. The Center’s Advisory Board consists of nationally-recognized criminal justice reform leaders from across the country, as well as across the political spectrum, who help the Center prioritize and operationalize its research. 

“John Legend is not only a world-renowned musician — he is also a tireless voice for reform in the criminal justice system,” said John Hollway, executive director of the Quattrone Center. “We are incredibly excited to bring his experience and distinction as an activist to our board.”

Recent scholarship from the Quattrone Center has measured the cash bail system’s contribution to disparity and error in the criminal justice system, and has identified how reducing reliance on money bail in misdemeanor and other non-violent, low-level offenses can better improve system performance. The Center also recently issued a national report detailing best practices for conviction review units — units within a district attorney’s office that exist to review plausible claims made by a convicted inmate that he or she is actually innocent of a crime. These units are a growing trend in criminal justice reform, and the Center’s report contains recommendations for structure, staffing, policies, and procedures.

The Quattrone Center’s 2017 Spring Symposium, “Common Ground: Preventing Errors in Criminal Justice,” will be held at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on Thursday, April 20 - Friday, April 21. This event will gather practitioners, scholars, community leaders, and others from all parts of the ideological spectrum to identify areas of agreement on important issues of reform and discuss groundbreaking approaches to improve the criminal justice system. For more information on the Quattrone Center’s 2017 Spring Symposium or to register for the event, please go to: http://bit.ly/QuattroneSpring2017.