As the in-house digital team at Innocence Project, we collaborated with the rest of the organization, and other partners, to launch a campaign to help fix the “guilty plea” problem in America. Today, so many innocent people plead guilty to crimes they did not commit. As the experts at Innocence Project put it:
In nearly 11% of the nation’s 349 DNA exoneration cases, innocent people entered guilty pleas. Unquestionably, these cases represent just a small fraction of the innocent people who have pleaded guilty, and there’s no telling how many more innocents who entered guilty pleas remain behind bars.
Surely, the problem of innocent people pleading guilty is rooted in the mammoth role that plea deals play in the U.S. criminal justice system more universally. In an essay penned for the New York Review of Books in 2014, New York Judge Jed Rakoff wrote that the country’s plea deal system has created a dramatic shift in American criminal justice, away from the model our forefathers’ once envisioned, where “the critical element in the system was the jury trial.”
Learn more about the campaign, watch the stories, and sign up at guiltypleaproblem.org