The Accountability Project is dedicated to helping drug and alcohol addicts in the criminal justice system achieve early recovery and reduce recidivism due to relapse.
The origin of The Accountability Project goes back to pioneering efforts in 2006 by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and its component Philadelphia Common Pleas and Municipal courts. The innovation then was the development of Forensic Intensive Review probation (FIR), an alternative sentencing approach that matches government funded drug treatment programs with the medically diagnosed needs of each substance-addicted defendant.
A problem then, as today, was drop-out and the courts’ regular inability to intervene before the addict is discharged from a treatment program because of lack of attendance. When this happens, the government’s treatment money is lost and everything that had been spent up to then is wasted. Serving in the criminal courts from 2006–2013, Judge Djerassi shared his colleagues’ frustrations with the revolving door and waste.
Beginning in 2015, he led a First Judicial District pilot project to test ways to report attendance to FIR’s case managers and probation officers in real time. Using fingerprint digital technology and working with Network of Care’s Trilogy Integrated Resources, Inc., the pilot was called PREATS (Prisoner Reentry Enhanced Accountability System). Through 2020, PREATS stakeholders included the First Judicial District’s Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD), the leadership of the FIR program, participating judges of the Common Pleas and Municipal courts, and administrators of City of Philadelphia drug treatment funding agencies.
When the Covid-19 Pandemic closed down operations, the PREATS era came to an end. Health protocols closed not only APPD but also temporarily closed treatment programs. It was during this time that Judge Djerassi and his team took another look at the check–in process and moved from using fingerprint digital technology and moved to take advantage of smartphone apps and QR codes. Acet Checkin was implemented at that time. The Accountability Project, a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation committed to assisting early intervention for relapsing addicts was formed shortly after.
When probation or treatment court participants are discharged due to non-attendance, they are often reincarcerated, starting the program cycle again.
Paper attendance sheets or electronic systems housed entirely within treatment facilities often result in delays in case management at the fiscal cost of the taxpayers, as well as lost opportunities for the offender and frustration for their loved ones.
Delays often result in undetected relapses, aggravated by premature discharges from assigned treatment programs. This lapse can also result in public harm through commission of new crimes, potential imposition of sanctions, and redundant expenses.
Emily Rose DeMarco
Emily Rose DeMarco began working with Judge Djerassi on criminal justice reform programming in 2018. She was hired as an intern working on the PREATS (Prisoner Reentry Enhanced Accountabilty System), the predecessor to The Accountability Project (TAP). She was the first hire for TAP.
Emily Rose received her BSN in Nursing from the University of Scranton in 2014. While in the nursing program, Emily Rose became interested in the intersection of healthcare access and incarceration. After college, Emily began working as a nurse in the Emergency Room at CentraState Medical Center, where she is still employed. She is also the founder and chair of CentraState’s LGBTQ+ Committee.
Emily Rose earned her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvainia’s Fels Institute of Government in 2018.
Attorney Scott Sigman concentrates his practice in the areas of criminal defense, white collar defense, drug forfeiture, and civil litigation. Mr. Sigman was selected as a “Pennsylvania Rising Star Super Lawyer” by Philadelphia Magazine from 2005 through 2012 and as a “2006 Lawyer on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer.Mr. Sigman was an Assistant District Attorney with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office where he was assigned to the Narcotics Division (in 1999) first as a Law Intern and then as a Prosecutor. During his tenure as an Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Sigman tried hundreds of cases in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Mr. Sigman received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government from The American University in Washington, D.C. in 1998. Mr. Sigman received his law degree in 2001 from Temple University where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal.
Mr. Sigman is an adjunct professor at Drexel University, Vice Commander in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and JAG Officer to American Legion Post 405.
Peter Wright is the Principal and Founder of Nockamixon Impact Development, LLC (NID) — a boutique CSR and nonprofit consulting firm that helps nonprofit or social venture startups create the most value, as early as possible. He has supported the planning, development or management of service nonprofits, political campaigns, public agencies, grant-making foundations, and for-profit social ventures. Working to make positive outcomes for communities, customers and beneficiaries is what Peter is motivated by the most.
Peter holds a BA in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from Clark University, a Graduate Certificate in Public Finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and Master of Science in Government Analytics, Statistics and Public Management at Johns Hopkins University.
Board of Directors
Ramy I. Djerassi
Ramy Djerassi is a judge and a criminal justice reformer in Philadelphia. He is a founder of the first web-based social service directory for re-entry in Pennsylvania and a long time member of the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition.
He began his career in the Philadelphia District attorney’s office. In private practice he led legal teams that vacated 3 death penalty senteces. He has led the Temple American Inn of Courts, Habitat for Humanity–West Philadelphia and Temple Beth Zion–Beth Israel in Philadelphia. He was co-chair for many years of the Education Committee of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
Judge Djerassi graduated from Yale College, Tulane Law School, and the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
John Macoretta has been a lawyer in Philadelphia for over 30 years, practicing before every level of state and federal court. He is a partner at Spector, Roseman & Kodroff, where he currently focuses on representing consumers and employee benefit funds who are suing to prevent drug companies from illegally overcharging for prescription drugs.
John has lived in Philadelphia most of his life. He is a graduate of Northeast High School and LaSalle University. He was awarded his law degree, with Honors, from the University of Texas School of Law in 1990. John and his wife Lizabeth have lived in Mt. Airy for over 20 years.
Michelle Anne Simmons
In 2001, Reverend Dr. Michelle Anne Simmons founded Why Not Prosper, Inc., a grassroots 501C3 organization located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, PA. The organization’s mission is to help women in the prison system to discover their own strength and to empower them to become responsible, economically self-sufficient and contributing members of the community. Since that time, the organization has assisted hundreds of women make a smooth transition from prison to community. As a formerly incarcerated woman, she has a deep understanding of the needs of women in the prison system.
Her organization now provides a full continuum of programs and services from prison to community including pre-release services at Muncy and Cambridge Springs prisons; residential services at 4 Why Not Prosper Houses; substance abuse counseling and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT); Family Reunification; and Community Services in Germantown and Montgomery County.
In 2008, Michelle graduated from Chestnut Hill College with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and in December 2010 she graduated with a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. She is also a Certified Allied Addictions Practitioner and a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. In addition, she received her Doctorate in Ministry from Friends International Christian Academy.
A single mother of two children, Michelle has overcome many challenges throughout her life. It is through her faith in God that she has persevered and is able to share her story.