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Penn will be receiving a new “data-driven” center for research into the American justice system thanks to a $15 million donation from two prominent Penn alumni.

On Tuesday, the Law School announced the establishment of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice. The center is named after 1977 Wharton graduate Frank Quattrone and his wife, 1978 School of Allied Medical Professions graduate Denise Foderaro.

Quattrone and Foderaro’s organization — The Frank and Denise Quattrone Foundation — provided the initial donation for the center.

According to the Penn Law’s press release, the goal of the Quattrone Center is to “catalyze long-term structural improvements to the U.S. criminal justice system” through an “interdisciplinary, data-driven, scientific approach,” which would make it the first center in the U.S. to take this approach.

The interdisciplinary nature of the center will include collaboration between different schools and departments at the University, including the Wharton School, the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Criminology of the School of Arts and Sciences, among others.

“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,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in the press release.

Potential topics for the center’s researchers to explore include the frequency of wrongful convictions, the effects of redress for institutional misconduct, forensic practices and the roles of external factors — such as politics, economics, and the media — on the fairness of the criminal justice system.

“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,” Frank Quattrone, chair emeritus of the Advisory Board of the Northern California Innocence Project, said in the release.

“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,” he added.

However, the center will not be focused exclusively on research.

“Part of the goal is to educate future leaders of the criminal justice system,” Penn Law Dean Michael Fitts added. He noted some of the ways that the center envisions student involvement is through research, project involvement and a class in criminal justice.

Penn Law is currently looking for an academic director to lead the Quattrone Center. However, Fitts said that an administrative director will be hired shortly and he expects the center will be holding conferences next year.

“This is a unique opportunity for Penn,” Fitts said. “The University has always had great strengths and … the center seeks to take advantage of all the things Penn is strong at and harness that to improve the criminal justice system.”

Quattrone has been involved in working to reform the criminal justice system since he and his wife joined the Northern California Innocence Project in 2004 — the same year he was convicted of urging his employees to destroy potential evidence in a stock trading investigation. His conviction was overturned in 2006, after which the remaining charges against him were dropped.

Currently, he is the CEO of Qatalyst group, a global investment bank, and chair emeritus of the Advisory Board of the Northern California Innocence Project — an organization devoted to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals and reforming the criminal justice system.

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