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Fair Trials in the United States

America’s criminal legal system is in urgent need of reform. Fair Trials works with campaigners, defense lawyers, grassroots movements, prosecutors and policy makers to tackle the intersecting problems of structural racism, mass incarceration and overcriminalisation.

How we work

Fair Trials Americas is a registered 501(c)3 organisation, working as part of a wider movement to reform criminal justice across the country since 2016. As an international NGO, we bring in-depth expertise from a comparative and international perspective to provide innovative and practical solutions to long-standing problems. We also provide access to a brilliant and engaged network of leading lawyers, non-profits and academics from around the world.

Access to Counsel

Fair Trials is campaigning for people who have been arrested to have access to a lawyer before they are interrogated by the police.

Arrested people in the US are almost never able to access counsel until, at the earliest, the first court hearing. Until then, they are subject to the unchecked power of the police.

Our insight from working with European models shows that involving defense lawyers earlier can not only provide oversight over arrest, custody and detention but can also have a transformative effect on the entire criminal legal system.

We believe early access to counsel could help to prevent unlawful arrests, police brutality and miscarriages of justice and has the potential to disrupt the machinery of criminalization, mass incarceration, and police control.

Legislation being introduced in California, Washington, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Find out more about our work on the Right to Counsel.

Plea bargaining

In the US, 98% of criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining. Routinely used with little or no oversight or guidance, plea bargaining incentivises people to plead guilty and enables mass criminalisation and mass incarceration.

We are raising awareness of how plea bargaining affects other issues such as police coercion, sentencing and racial justice.

We are also working with prosecutors to challenge the reliance of plea bargaining to process cases quickly.

Find out more about our work on plea bargaining.


If you are interested in working with Fair Trials in the US, please contact Rebecca Shaeffer.

You can also donate to support our work in the US.

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