Topic: Plea bargaining provides a fair and necessary form of justice in today’s criminal justice system. ( Agree with this topic)
Based upon your research, first critically analyze both sides of the issue and then logically argue why you agree or disagree with your chosen issue. An abstract is not necessary in this paper. However, the body of your paper should contain relevant facts, scholarly studies, and information that are less than 10 years old, appropriately cited and referenced. Conclude the paper with a brief summary of your major findings and arguments in defense of the issue chosen for this paper.
The criminal justice system comprises of agencies that apprehend, prosecute, defend, sentence, and punish people suspected or convicted of criminal activity. All the processes of law enforcement must promote and apply the law while ensuring justice and fairness. Additionally, following increasing cost of justice administration, the criminal justice system adopts strategies for the alleviation of the cost while maintaining fairness. However, some of the measures receive criticism from different people and groups. For instance, plea bargaining, as a measure implemented for the production of justice while reducing strains on the criminal justice system, receives significant criticism. Proponents and opponents argue for and against its ability to provide fairness and justice. While the former argue that the practice is effective in the delivery of fair and just outcomes, the latter argue that it promotes unfairness and injustice in today’s criminal justice system. This essay discusses both sides of the arguments in the quest to articulately outline the effectiveness of plea bargaining in the provision of fair and necessary justice in the system.
Plea Bargaining and the Criminal Justice System
According to Maurice (2015), plea bargaining is a practice integrated into the criminal justice system that involves an agreement between a criminal offender or suspect and the prosecutor. The agreement requires the defendant to plead guilty before the case goes to the court for hearing in the promise of a lighter sentence or charge. The agreement takes into consideration all the factors under the mutual acknowledgment of the case’s strengths and weaknesses (Kutateladze, Lawson, & Andiloro, 2015). As Bowles (2015) asserts, the practice focuses on the reduction of costs of running the justice system and the provision of fair and just decisions. Additionally, the practice considers and applies different facts as justifications for its application. Arguments that without the practice courts would be overcrowded, prosecutors overwhelmed by the overload of cases, and the time and capital consuming nature of the procedures for the system and the defendants remain central to the application of the practice (Graham, 2012). The analysis of the different arguments shows that plea bargaining provides a fair and essential form of justice.
The major criticism developed against plea bargaining is that the practice is unfair and promotes injustice. According to Kutateladze, Lawson, and Andiloro (2015), the practice involves extensive negotiations, sometimes taking days, months, or years, as prosecutors and defense attorneys struggle to cut a deal that is fair and just. However, the process involves coercion and sometimes threats that may prompt the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Such techniques may push even the innocent into pleading guilty due to fear. Moreover, by pleading guilty, the accused surrenders the right to a fair trial and the procedural safeguards in exchange for the concessions aimed at reduction of the sentence and the certainty upon guilty plea (Maurice, 2015). Opponents of the practice argue that, on the basis of the aforementioned, it does not promote fairness and justice in the criminal justice system. As such, the advocate for following the procedural criminal justice system practices.
Additionally, opponents of the practice also argue that it undermines the criminal justice system by promoting unfairness in the provision of justice. According to Fisher (2012), the process has shifted its focus from its initial purpose and continues to undermine the system in various ways. Initially, plea bargaining was used in weighty cases where upon application it guaranteed the acquisition of critical information in solving other major cases. For instance, the practice was applied in dealing with people convicted of murder who faced death penalty. Plea bargaining promised them a life sentence instead of the death penalty in exchange for information that would lead to the conviction of other criminals or the resolution of unsolved cases. However, as opponents argue, the practice is used for the sole purpose of saving money without the consideration of the aspects of justice or fairness (Graham, 2012). As such, they argue that it does not promote fairness in the system.
Additionally, even when the opponents agree with the proponents on the importance of plea bargaining in the prevention of overcrowding in the courts and the reduction of costs, they maintain that it is unfair mostly to the victims. The agreement promises the perpetrators or suspects of lighter sentences or charges if they plead guilty. Convicts of high profile criminal activity may receive sentences or be charged on charges lighter than they deserve. Offering criminals lighter sentences, according to the opponents, is an unethical practice in the system, one that does not consider fairness and justice. Allowing the practice also makes it difficult for the system to promote the rehabilitation of the convicts, who receive lesser charges or sentences in comparison to the magnitude of their crime. As such, by promoting the practice, the criminal justice system seems to care more of the cost, the rights of the criminal, and the system, without a consideration of the impact of the crime on the victims and the society. It does not provide a fair form of justice
On the other hand, proponents of the practice argue that it provides a fair and essential form of justice in the criminal justice system. According to Fisher (2012), the major issue of consideration in the promotion of the practice is its effectiveness in the improvement of efficiency in the criminal justice system. It promotes fairness and justice and considers various factors that influence the criminal justice system significantly. For instance, the practice gives convicts a chance to plead guilty without having to undergo the rigorous procedural processes that may be traumatic, time and money-consuming. In cases where the prosecutor believes s/he has sufficient evidence to prove without reasonable doubt that the suspect or offender is guilty, the provision of the agreement serves an essential purpose as a form of justice (Lee, 2014). The process allows the victim to receive justice without having to go through the court proceedings and trials, which may not only be exhaustive but also time-consuming, and traumatizing.
In the inexistence of the plea bargaining practice, the criminal justice system would become ineffective and impossible to promote fair and just hearings, trials, and sentences. The practice improves the efficiency of the system by minimizing the number of cases that proceed to trial. The process allows for enhanced efficiency in the prosecution and the court system, therefore, allowing the provision and promotion of fairness and justice (Maurice, 2015). Its impact causes minimal use of judges and courtrooms and minimizes the time and resources used throughout the criminal justice system. Additionally, the lighter sentences alleviate the strain in the system and improve its effectiveness in the promotion of justice and its main ideals including the rehabilitation of criminals (Maurice, 2015). As such, the process is an effective and essential form of justice whose integration and continued implementation will consistently promote fairness and efficiency in the system.
The practice offers victims and defendants certainty of justice and fairness and, therefore, provides a fair and necessary form of justice. Pleading guilty to the charges presented for a lesser sentence places certainty in the outcome of the case and reduces the risk for the victim and the defendant. The victim receives the justice he or she seeks and rests assured that the offender will be convicted and sentenced. Without the plea bargain, the case proceeds to the courtrooms when the mandate of proving the offender guilty rests with the prosecutor, the jury, and the judges, depending on numerous factors (Lee, 2014). In certain instances even guilty people are proven not guilty in the court of law, denying the victim justice. On the other hand, the plea bargain gives the offender certainty in the outcome of the case. Going to trial leaves significant room for chance (Kutateladze, Lawson, & Andiloro, 2015). While sometimes the defendant may get off, at other instances he or she may receive the maximum sentence. The constant fear and anxiety prior to trial cause psychological trauma to some defendants causing them to sign the agreement. However, the process in such cases proves an efficient form of justice that promotes fairness for the victim and the offender. Therefore, the practice is a fair and an essential form of justice in the current criminal justice system.
Moreover, as mass incarceration remains an imminent social problem in the society, the application of the practice plays a significant role in the alleviation of the issues (Savitsky, 2012). Currently, millions of American citizens are incarcerated for years for minor offenses that had plea bargaining been applied, would have resulted in a fairer sentence or no charges at all. Plea bargaining offers a fair and a necessary form of justice in the criminal justice system, and promotes the development of the society. The application of the practice in the past has shown immense success in the improvement of the efficiency of the system and the alleviation of major crimes in the society. Prosecutors and defense attorneys use the agreement to grant criminal offenders a chance of reduced sentences or charges for pleading guilty or offering critical information in solving major cases. For example, people found in possession of small quantities of illegal drugs and charged for other cases may be granted a chance for lighter sentences or lesser charges in exchange for information crucial for apprehending and prosecuting major drug suppliers/distributors (Stern, 2015). Therefore, the practice promotes fairness and justice and social development by eliminating crime through information exchanged during the bargain.
plea bargaining provides a fair and essential form of justice in the current
criminal justice system is an indisputable fact. The practice allows fast
resolution of cases, limits overcrowding in the courtrooms and overloading of
prosecutors and most importantly, reduces the cost of justice administration. These
issues lead to the improvement of efficiency in the justice system and,
therefore, the enhancement of justice and fairness in the processes therein. Moreover,
the practice guarantees certainty of fairness and justice for the victim and
the offender by removing the uncertainty that going to trial poses. Additionally,
the process works positively towards the development of the society through
reduction of crime. It uses information acquired from the bargain to apprehend
and prosecute criminals in the society. However, it continues to receive
criticism for offering criminals lighter sentences, an aspect viewed as unfair
to the victims. Moreover, opponents argue that it may coerce innocent people
into pleading guilty and that it prioritizes the cost over justice and
fairness. Even when such arguments may be true to a greater extent, it is
important to consider that inefficiency in the system may cause increased
unfairness and injustice, often causing innocent people to be sentenced. Moreover,
innocent people are also sentenced where evidence works against them, as such, plea
bargaining offers people in such a plight a chance for reduced charges and lighter
Bowles, R. (2015). Sentencing discounts, attorney compensation and plea bargaining in criminal cases. Review of Law & Economics, 11 (3), 385-407. https://doi.org/10.1515/rle-2014-0039
Fisher, G. (2012). Plea bargaining’s triumph : a history of plea bargaining in America. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Graham, K. (2012). Crimes, widgets, and plea bargaining: an analysis of charge content, pleas, and trials. California Law Review, 100 (6), 1573-1630.
Kutateladze, B. L., Lawson, V. Z., & Andiloro, N. R. (2015). Does Evidence Really Matter? An Exploratory Analysis of the Role of Evidence in Plea Bargaining in Felony Drug Cases. Law & Human Behavior (American Psychological Association), 39 (5), 431-442. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/lhb0000142
Lee, S. (2014). Plea bargaining: on the selection of jury trials. Economic Theory, 57 (1), 59-88. doi:10.1007/s00199-014-0801-7
Maurice, L. O. (2015). The defense counsel’s ethics in plea bargaining: losing sight of the innocent? Juridical Current, 18 (4), 74-97.
Savitsky, D. (2012). Is plea bargaining a rational choice? Plea bargaining as an engine of racial stratification and overcrowding in the United States prison system. Rationality & Society, 24 (2), 131-167. doi:10.1177/1043463112441351
Stern, S. (2015). The war on drugs and prison growth: limited importance, limited legislative options. Harvard Journal On Legislation, 52 (1), 173-220.