Convictions As Guilt
54 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019 Last revised: 8 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 17, 2019
A curious tension exists in scholarly discourse about the criminal justice system. On the one hand, a copious body of work exposes a variety of facets of the system that jeopardize the reliability of convictions. These include factors whose influence is pervasive: the predominance of plea bargaining, which presents carrots and sticks to innocent and guilty alike, and the subordination of the defense, symbolized by resource disparities that prevent even narratives of innocence from getting a fair hearing. On the other hand, in a variety of contexts, scholars discuss those with criminal convictions in a way that appears to assume crime commission. This assumption obscures crucial failings of the system, muddies the role of academia, and, given the unequal distribution of criminal convictions, risks compounding race- and class-based stereotypes of criminality. From careful examination of this phenomenon and its possible explanations, reform proposals emerge.
Keywords: wrongful convictions, plea bargaining, ineffective assistance, defense counsel, innocence, guilt
JEL Classification: K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation