Convictions As Guilt

54 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019 Last revised: 8 Jun 2019

See all articles by Anna Roberts

Anna Roberts

St. John's University - School of Law

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

Roberts, Anna, Convictions As Guilt (May 17, 2019). Fordham Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Anna Roberts (Contact Author)

St. John's University - School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics