Rampant Plea Bargaining Is a Raw Deal for Defendants

Source: Reason
by David McGarry

“A new report from the American Bar Association (ABA) presents more evidence that the ubiquitous use of plea bargains distorts the justice system and puts defendants at a disadvantage. Roughly 98.3 percent of federal criminal convictions result from guilty pleas, as do roughly 95 percent of state convictions. ‘Some jurisdictions have not had a criminal trial in many years,’ the report notes. Nor is a guilty plea an absolute assurance of guilt: 18 percent percent of documented exonerations had previously pleaded guilty, as did nearly 11 percent of defendants exonerated by DNA evidence since 1989. To make defendants plead guilty rather than go to trial, prosecutors threaten harsher sentences, bail impositions, indictments of the defendant’s family members, and more.” (03/10/23)