Trading Away Justice is a national reporting project on plea bargaining by a collaboration of professional and student journalists from news organizations and universities. We are documenting cases from across the country in which innocent people plead guilty to crimes they did not commit and building a database of their stories to identify the leading causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
The first installments include work produced by Injustice Watch, Capital News Service at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism and PBS NewsHour:
CHICAGO. Two brothers, two choices: A plea bargain’s toll on the innocent. Henry and Juan Johnson, wrongly convicted of murder, won a new trial after 11 years in prison. The prosecutor offered to let them walk free — but only if they pleaded guilty.
BALTIMORE. Plea deals punish the innocent, hide the guilty in Baltimore police scandal. The courts are voiding scores of convictions tied to arrests by corrupt police officers. Why did so many of their victims plead guilty?