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Did the Pandemic Increase Guilty Pleas?

A woman behind bars in jail.
Thomas Rüdesheim
A woman behind bars in jail.

An experimental study says yes.

People in the U.S. have a constitutional right to a jury trial. Yet, more than 95% of criminal convictions result from guilty pleas rather than jury verdicts.

The bulk of these guilty pleas come from plea bargaining. This occurs when prosecutors offer reduced sentences to defendants. In return, they waive their right to a trial.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect plea deals? A team of researchers that included Missouri State University’s Dr. David Zimmerman worked to find out through an experimental study.

Zimmerman, an associate professor of psychology, discusses the research.

Read the full audio transcript.

A native of Malaysia, Emily moved to Springfield in 2010 and started working at Missouri State University in 2014. She’s currently the assistant director in the Office of Strategic Communication. She has a BA in Mass Communications from Colorado State University-Pueblo and a Master of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
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