The Fairness of Plea Bargaining

Pages: 4 (1035 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining is an inherent part of the criminal justice system. “Let’s make a deal.” Plea bargains are agreements that are made between the defendant and prosecutor in a criminal court case. The agreement can only be completed if defendant and prosecutor come to a communally agreement. During the plea bargaining process, the defendant makes a knowing and voluntary waiver of his or her rights to a trail. Judges do not participate in the discussions and can decline or accept the guilty plea or plea agreement if the charge or charges have factual basis.

Upon completion of this research paper, the issues that will be addressed are fairness of plea bargaining, and whether if plea bargaining is unconstitutional.
According to the Bureau of Justice, a great number of people enter into plea agreements each year. It is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of state and federal court cases have been resolved through this process. However, this system has been criticized for allowing prosecutors too much discretion compared with judges, who are held to concise sentencing guidelines (Burke, 2007; Finkelstein, 1975; Ma, 2002). Prosecutors have been found to use threats that coerce defendants into accepting pleas to secure a conviction when the evidence in a case is insubstantial (Finkelstein, 1975). Moreover, several researchers have noted that prosecutorial biases can influence the plea bargaining process, because prosecutors are given such wide latitude when they reduce charges for offenders (Burke, 2007; Ma, 2002).

There are many different reasons why individuals are offered plea bargaining. It has been reported that in most cases race and gender play a large role in the length of time the defendant receives when accepting a plea bargain.

Not only does plea bargaining save taxpayers an enormous amount of money, it often provides the evidence for a conviction and allows public defenders and other court officials to concentrate their limited...

References: “Ad Hoc Plea Bargaining,” by Joseph Colquitt. Tulane LawReview, Vol. 75 (2001).
Escape of the Guilty, by Ralph Adam Fine. New York, N.Y.:Dodd, Mead, 1987.
Plea Bargaining’s Triumph, by George Fisher. Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 2003.
The Tyranny of Good Intentions, by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton. New York, N.Y.: Prima Publishing, 2000
Savitsky, Douglas
Padgett, John F. 2000 “The Emergent Organization of Plea Bargaining”. American Journal of Sociology, vol .90, pgs. 753- 800.
Fisher, George 2003 “Bargaining‘s Triumph”. History Plea Bargaining in American vol. 13 No 11
Jack Abramoff case, 2005 “Lobbyist Is Said to Discuss Plea and Testimony"
Roman, J., Chalfin, A., Sundquist, A., Knight, C., & Darmenov, A. (2008). “The cost of
the death penalty in Maryland”.
Washington, DC: Urban Institute New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission (2007). New Jersey Death Penalty
Latzer, B., & Cauthen, J
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