Psychology, Public Policy, and Law

Redlich, Allison D., Miko M. Wilford, and Shawn Bushway*.


The adjudication of crime by guilty plea has been on the rise globally for at least the last 30 years. Few countries, however, have accepted pleas to the degree of the United States, whose highest court recently acknowledged a criminal justice system near-synonymous with a “system of pleas, not a system of trials” (Lafler v. Cooper, 2012, p. 3). The present article provides an overview of this justice system wherein many pleas are bargained between the defense and prosecution. Our purpose here is twofold: first to review psychological and other social scientific research on the theoretical and practical reasons underlying the process of pleading guilty, and second, to identify research questions and methods that have yet to be, but need to be, asked and conducted in relation to guilty pleas. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff