Janet Reno to Help Dedicate Criminology Center at Penn

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-898-6460October 9, 2001

PHILADELPHIA -- Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno will join University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin and crime-prevention experts from around the world to dedicate the new Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at Penn Oct. 15.

Founded with an initial $5 million gift from the Jerry Lee Foundation, the Center has attracted an additional $7 million in funds since it was established a year ago by Penn Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel H. Preston. Funding sources include the English government, the U.S. Justice Department, other private foundations and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"Penn is pleased to undertake yet another effort on behalf of preventing violence and fostering democracy," said President Rodin. "The Jerry Lee Center of Criminology will play just the kind of role that a research university should play in finding better solutions to these challenges."

Dean Samuel Preston said that "This new Center builds on Penn's tradition of criminology in arts and sciences, extending it across the University into seven different schools, from Wharton to Medicine."

Jerry Lee, the Philadelphia broadcasting executive whose foundation provided the Criminology Center initial gift, is the president of B101-FM Radio, and a long-term member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters. He is also chair of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army in the Philadelphia area.

Lee has long been active on issues of race and urban poverty, including educational reform. His association with Penn dates from the University 1999 appointment of the new Criminology Center director, Lawrence Sherman, as the Albert M. Greenfield Professor of Human Relations in the Department of Sociology and director of the Fels Center of Government.

Lee first met Sherman after reading online a 1997 Report to the U.S. Congress entitled "Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising." He immediately contacted Sherman, the senior co-author of the report, who was then chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. The report, which had been authorized by then-Attorney General Reno, provided a systematic review of research on the effectiveness of $4 billion per year in federal funding against crime. The New York Times called the review "the most comprehensive study of crime prevention ever."

Sherman, who was elected president of the International Society of Criminology in 1999 and president of the American Society of Criminology in 2000, was ranked in a Cambridge University study of 25,000 citations to research in leading journals as the most frequently cited criminologist in the English language. He is especially known for his pioneering use of randomized controlled experiments in evaluating criminal penalties and crime-prevention strategies, which has led to discoveries about the connections between informal crime deterrents, like employment and family relations, and the actions of police, courts and prisons.

The Center largest current project is a $3.5 million contract with the English government to introduce and test "restorative justice" for serious adult offenses in London, Oxfordshire, and the Newcastle area, Northumbria. This method, which Sherman and his colleagues have evaluated in a series of experiments with Australian authorities since 1995, involves meetings between crime victims, confessed offenders and their friends and families to discuss the harm the crime caused and how the offender might try, voluntarily, to repair the harm. In one Australian experiment with violent offenders, the method reduced repeat offending by 38 percent. The English government has asked the Jerry Lee Center to replicate these experiments in courts, probation and prison.

The Center associate director, Jeffrey Roth, is leading a $2 million Justice Department study to determine the reasons why youth violence declined in U.S. cities in the late 1990s. The Center is also the base for the International Campbell Collaboration crime and justice committee, chaired by Cambridge University Professor David Farrington. The committee is undertaking long-term reviews of world-wide research on the effectiveness of 25 different crime-prevention strategies.

At the Center's dedication ceremony, Janet Reno and Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney will receive awards for leadership in research-based crime prevention. Other speakers at the dedication will include Sir Charles Pollard, chief constable of the 7,000 Thames Valley Police and a leading proponent of restorative justice; Commander Stephen Roberts of New Scotland Yard; Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah; Australian National University Professor John Braithwaite; Paul Leighton, a former Northern Ireland police chief who now leads territorial policing in Northumbria; and Cambridge University criminologist David Farrington.

In addition to its research program, the Center offers a multi-disciplinary Ph.D. in criminology with faculty from seven different schools and an undergraduate course in Penn Department of Sociology.

The dedication is open to the public and begins at 10 a.m. in the Annenberg Center, 37th and Walnut streets. For further information call 215-898-8216 or consult the Center home page at www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee.