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Innocent People Who Plead Guilty - How This Can Be Changed

Studies have found that 2-8% of all guilty pleas were made by innocent people. Considering the United States' prison population of 2 million, this means that anywhere between 20,000-80,000 innocent people are in prison.

The author proposes a solution, which seems workable to help address this: A mediation program in criminal cases presided over by a judge (not the presiding judge). Basically, a counterpart to settlement conferences in civil cases. These mediations would be sealed hearings and would address many of the issues which exist in the current plea bargaining process (only 3% of federal cases go to trial) by balancing out the disproportionate bargaining power of prosecutors. The focus would be on the actual facts of the case and whether a person is actually guilty of the crimes charged. Instead of what plea bargaining is now, namely, a focus on mandatory minimum sentences, potential prison exposure, and how a defendant can minimize risk by taking a quick plea to avoid a prosecutor’s wrath.

Read more about this subject in an article by NYBooks.