Penn's Laurie O. Robinson Named to Two National Justice Positions

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-898-6460November 23, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- Laurie O. Robinson, director of the criminology master of science program at the University of Pennsylvania and a former U.S. assistant attorney general, has been elected chair of the board of trustees of the Vera Institute of Justice.  She has also been named to a new national commission looking at justice issues at the nexus of science and law.

"The Vera Institute is a unique and widely acclaimed organization that tests innovations in 'real world' settings to find solutions to justice-system problems," Lawrence W. Sherman, chair of Penn's Criminology Department, said, pointing to its groundbreaking work  on bail reform in the 1960s.  

Robinson will be only the third chair of the private, non-profit group since its founding in 1961.

Robinson was also named a member of a new American Judicature Society National Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy, co-chaired by former attorney general Janet Reno and David Korn, vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The commission will be guiding a new AJS institute aimed at amplifying the impact of science on the justice system.  The commission will adopt national forensic-science standards for use by law enforcement, prosecution, practicing attorneys and the courts and will set the institute research agenda.   

The National Academy of Sciences is collaborating on the first research project, a study of the economic costs of wrongful convictions.

"Both the Vera Institute and the AJS Commission offer multiple opportunities for Penn graduate student involvement, as well as for collaboration with Penn Criminology," Robinson said.