Pros and Cons of the Exclusionary Rule

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ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF THE EXCLUSIONARY RULE
Among the arguments in support of the exclusionary rule4 by its proponents are the following: 1. It deters violations of constitutional rights by police and prosecutors. A number of studies and testimonies by police officers support this contention. 2. It manifests society’s refusal to convict lawbreakers by relying on official lawlessness—a clear demonstration of our commitment to the rule of law that states that no person, not even a law enforcement official, is above the law. 3. It results in the freeing of the guilty in a relatively small proportion of cases. A 1978 study by the General Accounting Office found that, of 2,804 cases in which defendants were likely to file a motion to suppress evidence, exclusion succeeded in only 1.3 percent. Moreover, the same study reported that, of the cases presented to federal prosecutors for prosecution, only 0.4 percent were declined by the prosecutors because of Fourth Amendment search and seizure problems.5 In 1983, another study found that “only between 0.6 and 2.35 percent of all felony arrests are ‘lost’ at any stage in the arrest disposition process (including trials and appeals) because of the operation of the exclusionary rule.” 4. It has led to more professionalism among the police and increased attention to training programs. Fear that evidence will be excluded has forced the police to develop greater expertise in their work. 5. It preserves the integrity of the judicial system, because the admission of illegally seized evidence would make the court a party to violations of constitutional rights. 6. It prevents the government, whose agents have violated the Constitution, from profiting from its wrongdoing. Somebody has to pay for the mistake—better it be the government than the suspect who has already been wronged. 7. It protects the constitutional right to privacy.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE EXCLUSIONARY RULE
Opponents, including justices of the Supreme Court, have...
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