About PBI

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

The American criminal justice system is dominated by pleas of guilty and plea bargaining. Increasingly, other criminal justice systems around the world are also embracing varying forms of plea bargaining. The Plea Bargaining Institute (PBI) has been established to provide a global intellectual home for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and advocacy groups to share knowledge and promote collaboration related to plea bargaining and its role in criminal processes. The PBI strives to ensure that practitioners, policy makers, and advocacy organizations have access to important research findings and case developments so that this information might assist them in their works. Simultaneously, the PBI seeks to create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between academics, practitioners, policymakers, and advocacy organizations to assist in identifying new areas for research and inquiry in this field. Through these efforts, the PBI will assist in the creation of cutting-edge research and create opportunity for plea bargaining reform efforts, policy initiatives, and legislation to be informed by research.

To advance its mission, PBI will:

Publish summaries of research and case law developments in the plea bargaining field on this website and in reports.

PBI works to make research and case law related to plea bargaining more accessible to policymakers, advocacy organizations, practitioners, and academics across various disciplines. This is achieved through our summaries and reports, which provide readers key information about important research and case law in the field. These summaries are located in a searchable database on the PBI website, allowing the user to identify the materials most important to their work.

Create working groups for academics, policy advocates, practitioners, and the international plea community to share knowledge and create opportunities for dialogue.

The PBI working groups create an opportunity for those working in the plea bargaining field to network and collaborate. These working groups are also vehicles for research, policy development, and information dissemination.

Convene various events, including a PBI symposium, to share knowledge and engage in collaboration

The PBI events aim to create environments for the sharing of knowledge and the creation of opportunities for collaboration. The PBI symposium is specifically focussed on creating a space in which researchers 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. The symposium also allows researchers to share their latest findings with practitioners, policymakers, and advocacy organizations for use in their work and advocacy.


The PBI is the vision of Professor Lucian E. Dervan, Professor of Law and Director of Criminal Justice Studies at Belmont University College of Law, who serves as the institute’s Founding Director. As a leading global researcher and expert 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.