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Pleading Out: How Plea Bargaining Creates a Permanent Criminal Class

Appearance Date: 10/29/2022

A blistering critique of America’s assembly-line approach to criminal justice’ and the shameful practice at its core: the plea bargain. Most Americans believe that the jury trial is the backbone of our criminal justice system. But in fact, the vast majority of cases never make it to trial: almost all criminal convictions are the result of a plea bargain, a deal made entirely out of the public eye. Law professor and civil rights lawyer Dan Canon argues that plea bargaining may swiftly dispose of cases, but ‘it’ also fuels an unjust system. This practice produces a massive underclass of people who are restricted from voting, working, and otherwise participating in society. And while innocent people plead guilty to crimes they did not commit in exchange for lesser sentences,” the truly guilty can get away with murder. With heart-wrenching stories, fierce urgency, and an insider’s perspective, Pleading Out exposes the ugly truth about what’s wrong with America’s criminal justice system’ today — and offers a prescription for meaningful change.

Meet the Author

Daniel Canon
Dan Canon

Dan Canon is a civil rights lawyer and a Professor of Law at the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. He served as lead counsel for the Kentucky plaintiffs in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which established marriage equality in all 50 states, and has been involved in many other high-profile cases. He writes on civil and criminal justice issues for a variety of regional and national publications. PLEADING OUT, his first book, is scheduled for release in March 2022 (Basic/Hachette). Dan lives in Indiana with his wife and three daughters and is represented by Rachel Vogel at Dunow Carlson Lerner Literary Agency in New York. Follow @dancanon on most social media platforms.