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TV courtroom dramas would have you believe that the trial is a major part of the criminal justice process. But most defendants don’t go to trial. Instead, most defendants decide to plead guilty—even when they are innocent.

What is a plea deal, exactly, and how does it function? Who negotiates a plea deal and who approves it? What are the benefits to the state? What are the benefits for defendants? And more importantly, how do plea deals reduce protections for individuals ensnared in the criminal justice system?

On this episode, we’ll answer all these questions and more. We’ll also be talking to Professor Alexandra Natapoff, a law professor at University of California, Irvine, and one of the foremost experts on plea bargaining in America.  

For more on plea bargaining, check out our website at

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