The Reckoning Project

The Reckoning Project, an initiative affiliated with the Carceral State Project starting with the 2022-2027 “Meet the Moment” grant, seeks to achieve justice for people who have been harmed by official misconduct committed by key actors in the criminal justice system. The Reckoning Project team, led by Professor Christian Davenport (Political Science) in partnership with Professor Marc Howard (Georgetown University), starts by analyzing proven wrongful convictions that were based on clear misconduct by police, prosecutors, judges, experts, or other official actors. It then moves from isolated accounts to a more sustained, systematic, and comprehensive analysis of all relevant misconduct that contributed to wrongful convictions. The initiative will connect and extend the dots of official misconduct by creating a database that identifies and tracks the cases where other people may have been harmed by the same individuals who clearly committed violations elsewhere. The Reckoning Project also seeks to foster further investigative research by independent journalists and help affected people find lawyers and legal resources that could support their ongoing search for justice. The overall agenda is to save innocent lives, reduce harm caused to people who have been excessively and unjustly punished, and help to change a corrupt and immoral system that protects state actors who have abused their tremendous power.

The Reckoning Project is focused on Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania as its pilot initiative and will be expanding into other cities starting in 2023. The Reckoning Project database is currently under construction and will be released sometime in 2024.

Project Team

Dr. Christian Davenport

Christian Davenport is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan as well as a Faculty Associate at the Center for Political Studies and Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Primary research interests include political conflict (e.g., human rights violations, genocide/politicide, torture, political surveillance, civil war and social movements), measurement, racism and popular culture.

Dr. Marc M. Howard

Marc M. Howard is one of the country’s leading voices and advocates for criminal justice and prison reform. He is a Professor of Government and Law, and the founding Director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative, at Georgetown University. He is also the Founder and President of the Frederick Douglass Project for Justice, a non-profit organization that launched in 2020.

Dr. Kentaro Toyama

Kentaro Toyama is W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School of Information, a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. In previous lives, Kentaro taught at Ashesi University in Ghana and co-founded Microsoft Research India, where he did research on the application of information and communication technology to international development.