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The Plea Bargaining Institute (PBI) is a groundbreaking project that will provide a global intellectual home for academics, policymakers, advocacy organizations, and practitioners working in the plea bargaining space to share knowledge and collaborate.

This website is under development. The full website will launch in early 2023. In the meantime, you can find out more about the PBI and sign up for updates below.

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About the Plea Bargaining Institute

The PBI has been established to provide a global intellectual home for researchers, practitioners, and policy advocates to share knowledge and promote collaboration related to plea bargaining and its role in criminal processes. The PBI will aggregate, digest, disseminate and solicit research and analysis that will enable those working to reform plea bargaining to shape laws, change policy, and transform practice in the United States and internationally. The PBI will promote knowledge sharing and create opportunities for dialogue that will inspire new and innovative research. The PBI will also engage in training to foment sustained approaches to limit coercive waivers.

To advance its mission, PBI will:

Publish summaries of research and case law developments in the plea bargaining field on this website and in an annual report. This will give practitioners, policymakers, and advocacy organizations access to the wealth of data and research being produced across a host of disciplines each year in a manageable and accessible format. Similarly, they will gain access to information and developments in plea bargaining case law on an annual basis to assist them in their work and advocacy.

Create working groups for academics, policymakers, advocacy organizations, and practitioners to share knowledge and create opportunities for dialogue.

Convene an annual symposium at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tennessee. This event will allow researchers to hear from practitioners, policymakers, and advocacy organizations to learn what new areas of research are necessary to support the work of these groups in bringing attention and reform to the plea bargaining system both in the United States and around the world. This event will also allow researchers to share their latest findings with practitioners, policymakers, and advocacy organizations for use in their work and advocacy.

The PBI is a partnership between criminal justice watchdog Fair Trials and Lucian E. Dervan, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Studies at Belmont College of Law. Professor Lucian E. Dervan will serve as the Founding Director of the PBI, overseeing its operation along with Fair Trials.

Get Involved

Sign up to receive updates about the work of the PBI, including announcements about the launch of this site.

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Contact us

If you are a journalist who would like to know more about the PBI, contact:

Pam Cowburn, Communications Director, Fair Trials: [email protected]

If you are an academic, researcher, practitioner, advocate, or policymaker who would like to know more or get involved with the PBI, please contact:

Rebecca Shaeffer, Legal Director (Americas), Fair Trials: [email protected]

Norman L. Reimer, Global CEO, Fair Trials: [email protected]

Lucian E. Dervan, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Studies at Belmont College of Law: [email protected]

People

The PBI is led by Professor Lucian E. Dervan, Professor of Law and Director of Criminal Justice Studies at Belmont University College of Law. As a leading global researcher regarding plea bargaining and the phenomenon of false pleas of guilty, he has devoted his career to reforming the plea bargaining system in the United States and around the world.

Norman L. Reimer is Global CEO of the global criminal watchdog, Fair Trials. Before joining Fair Trials, Norman was the Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the preeminent organisation in the US dedicated to enhancing the capacity of the criminal defense bar to safeguard fundamental rights and promote reforms in further of a fair, rational, humane, and non-discriminatory criminal legal system. Prior to his time at NACDL, Norman was a criminal defense lawyer based in New York City for over 20 years. He is a passionate advocate for the rights of the accused and the need to limit governmental overreach in the enforcement of its laws.

Rebecca Shaeffer is the Legal Director for Fair Trials Americas, leading on the organisation’s US advocacy and applying learning from European and global justice movements to support these reform efforts. She is the lead author of reports on comparative practice in pre-trial detention decision making, global plea bargaining, and early access to council in police custody. She sat on the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section’s plea bargaining task force.

Our prestigious Board of Advisors will help influence and shape the work of the PBI. It comprises practitioners, academics from various disciplines, policy advocates, and impacted persons.

Our Board of Advisors includes:

Rebecca Brown, Director of Policy, Innocence Project
Cynthia Jones, Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University
Abbe David Lowell, Defense Lawyer, Winston & Strawn
Allison Redlich, University Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University
Jenny Roberts, Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University
Rodney Roberts, activist and exoneree
Cynthia Roseberry, Acting Director, ACLU Justice Division, ACLU
Martin Sabelli, Defense Lawyer and Immediate Past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Law Offices of Martin A. Sabelli
Abbe Smith, Director, Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, Georgetown University Law Center