Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partners with Philly DA's office on tech, data - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 20, 2018 12:12 pm

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partners with Philly DA’s office on tech, data

A team from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based organization will shadow DA's office staffers to assess the role tech plays in the lifecycle of criminal cases.

Larry Krasner became Philadelphia District Attorney in January 2018.

(Courtesy photo)

With billions of dollars behind it, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative — founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan — has a blanket mission of “advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity.”

As part of its Justice and Opportunity initiative, a team of specialists from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based organization has partnered with the Philadelphia District’s Attorney Office to evaluate, over the coming weeks, how IT and data systems come into play as criminal cases are prosecuted.

“It’s our hope that this partnership will help the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to deliver on our mission of seeking justice, keeping our city safe, and implementing needed reforms to our broken criminal justice system,” said Ben Waxman, spokesperson for the DA’s office. “We are absolutely delighted that they’ve taken an interest in our work and look forward to hearing their suggestions for how to improve our technology to achieve better outcomes for all Philadelphians.”

It’s early in the going so the exact outcome of the project is “hard to determine,” Waxman told Technical.ly.

“They have just begun their assessment of our needs,” Waxman said.  “They are the experts in this field and we look forward to their recommendations.”

Here’s what to expect, according to the CZI website:

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During this collaboration, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative team will shadow attorneys, criminologists, operations leads, and administrative staff to gain a picture of the lifecycle of a criminal case from arrest through sentencing to assess the role of technology and information systems in this process.

District Attorney Larry Krasner took office in January 2018, after campaigning on a series of significant reforms, with a particular focus on alternatives to incarceration for some offenses. The CZI’s justice and opportunity team, which supports a range of organizations working on criminal reform, has also backed projects on affordable housing, immigration and economic opportunity.

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