The “End the Trial Penalty Coalition” brings together organizations from across the ideological spectrum, from the ACLU, the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to Right on Crime.
In 2022, 97.5% of all defendants in federal court pleaded guilty, according to a report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which studies and develops sentencing policies for the federal judiciary.
As Americans, we should be deeply suspicious of a criminal justice system in which people almost never choose to exercise their constitutional right to a jury trial. The fewer trials there are, the less opportunity there is for citizens to participate in the process and the less transparent—and accountable—our criminal justice system becomes. As Thomas Jefferson observed to Thomas Paine, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
Mass plea‐bargaining may be good for prosecutors looking to keep their numbers up, but it severely undermines the integrity of our criminal justice system. The Constitution does not countenance a Trial Penalty and neither should we.