The Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law announced Tuesday the creation of a new criminal justice reform center funded by $7 million in donations.
The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will support research and educational programs dealing with issues such as wrongful convictions, over-incarceration, and help to ensure fair ethical treatment of individuals involved in the criminal justice process, the SMU Dedman School of Law announced in a press release.
The combined donations that will support the center come from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation—giving $3.5 million each over a five-year period.
“Our passion for criminal justice reform is based on our desire to create and support programs that help lift the poor from poverty, to help them become self-dependent and, consequently, support their families and live their lives with dignity,” Deason Foundation President Doug Deason said in the release. “Because the problems with our criminal justice system are so complex and deeply rooted, a collaborative, thoughtful approach is essential. This new Criminal Justice Reform Center will offer the research required to find innovative solutions, and we are very proud to support it.”
Jennifer Collins, dean and professor at the law school, took to Twitter to celebrate the announcement of the donations and new center.
Collins, who was an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. from 1994 to 2002, said in the school’s release the center will build on the university’s existing faculty strength in criminal law.
Collins told the Dallas Morning News the donations will allow for the law school to hire an executive director, outreach director, and additional supporting faculty in the criminal justice field