How Justice Agencies Can Implement and Benefit from Sentinel Event Reviews

August 13, 2019
3:00pm - 4:00pm

The National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) Sentinel Events Initiative takes a learning approach to error in the criminal justice system. This approach advocates for non-blaming, forward-looking, all-stakeholder event reviews of negative criminal justice outcomes, which might include a death in custody, routine police encounter that escalates to violence, wrongful conviction, or “near miss” in which a negative event is narrowly avoided. Drawing on years of research, stakeholder input, and beta projects, NIJ launched a National Demonstration Project in 2018 to implement sentinel event reviews across the country. This webinar will lay out the sentinel events approach and discuss successes, challenges, and lessons learned from the demonstration project.

This webinar:

  • 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.


Maureen Q. McGough is an attorney and senior policy advisor at the National Institute of Justice, the U.S. Department of Justice’s research agency. Maureen oversees the development and implementation of NIJ's Sentinel Events Initiative, as well as an initiative to advance evidence-based policing and a partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service to combat poaching in East Africa. Maureen previously served as Counsel in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, with a focus on countering violent extremism and building communities of resilience. Additional experience includes coordinating federal AIDS relief effort for the State Department in Kigali, Rwanda, serving as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and advocating for the rights of domestic violence survivors in Washington, DC. She received her J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law.


James Doyle is Senior Consultant to the National Institute of Justice’s Sentinel Events Initiative and was an NIJ Visiting Fellow from 2012 to 2014. He is a veteran litigator and writer. The former head of the statewide Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts, Mr. Doyle practices law in Boston as counsel to the firm of Bassil & Budreau, concentrating on the defense of indigent defendants in homicide cases. He is the author of True Witness (2005), the history of the collision between the science of memory and the legal system, and the co-author (with Elizabeth Loftus) of Eyewitness Testimony: Civil and Criminal, a treatise for lawyers in cases involving eyewitness testimony. He has published numerous articles on evidence, race in criminal justice, and capital punishment. Mr. Doyle was the Founding Director of The Center for Modern Forensic Practice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.