Three Ways Courts Screw the Innocent Into Pleading Guilty

You should go read Jed A. Rakoff’s essay in The New York Review of Books, in which the senior federal district judge tries to explain why innocent people so often plead guilty.

But even if you have better things to do this weekend than digest Rakoff’s thorough, convincing, 4,400-word essay, it’s still worth considering why at least 20,000 people have pled guilty to and gone to jail for felonies they did not commit — if you very conservatively take criminologists’ lowest estimates, and cut them in half.

Rakoff identifies three ways the criminal justice system obstructs its own “truth seeking mechanism,” a trial by jury, which Rakoff calls a “shield against tyranny” and which Thomas Jefferson famously called “the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

Link (The Intercept)

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