In criminal justice, a “sentinel event” is a bad outcome that might include a death in custody, routine police encounter that escalates to violence, mishandling of evidence, wrongful conviction, or “near miss,” in which a negative event is narrowly avoided. Too often, the criminal justice system fails to learn from these bad outcomes. Drawing inspiration from aviation, medicine, and other high-risk fields, the Sentinel Events Initiative (SEI) takes an alternative approach. SEI advocates for non-blaming, all-stakeholder, forward-looking reviews of sentinel events, to learn from these events in an effort to prevent their recurrence.
- outlines the sentinel events approach,
- shares how criminal justice practitioners can implement sentinel event reviews in their jurisdictions,
- includes information about a National Demonstration Project being implemented across the country by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Additional Resources about the Sentinel Events Initiative:
- Mending Justice outlines the sentinel events approach and includes essays by district attorneys, directors of criminal justice organizations, a victims advocate, judge, police officer, and others.
- Paving the Way compiles lessons learned from pilot site reviews in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.