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NCJ Number: 50312 Find in a Library
Title: PLEA BARGAINING - WHO GAINS? WHO LOSES? EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Author(s): ANON
Date Published: 1974
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PLEA BARGAINING AND ITS ROLE IN CRIME CONTROL AND JUSTICE ARE DISCUSSED. PLEA BARGAINING IS DEFINED AS THE PROCESS BY WHICH THE STATE GRANTS SENTENCING AND CONCESSIONS IN EXCHANGE FOR GUILTY PLEAS.
Abstract: PUBLIC AMBIVALENCE TOWARD PLEA BARGAINING IS THE RESULT OF GENERAL DISAGREEMENT ABOUT WHAT PLEA BARGAINING SHOULD ACCOMPLISH GIVEN THE PREVAILING NORMS OF JUSTICE, WHAT PLEA BARGAINING ACTUALLY DOES ACCOMPLISH GIVEN THE REALITY OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS, AND HOW EXISTING PRACTICES CAN BE MODIFIED OR PRESERVED THROUGH PUBLIC POLICY. GAINS AND LOSSES RELATED TO PLEA BARGAINING ARE ASSESSED FOR THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, THE DEFENDANT, AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC. COSTS AND BENEFITS ARE MEASURED IN TERMS OF CONVICTIONS, SENTENCES, RECIDIVISM, AND JUDICIAL PROCESSING. EXPLANATIONS OF PLEA BARGAINING ARE SOUGHT WITH RESPECT TO RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS, THE RECOGNITION OF MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES IN INDIVIDUAL CASES, THE ABILITY OF THE GUILTY PLEA PROCESS TO SORT CASES ECONOMICALLY, AND THE INDIVIDUAL PROCLIVITIES OF ACTORS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS. TO EVALUATE PLEA BARGAINING, DATA WERE OBTAINED FROM 1974 ARREST RECORDS PROCESSED IN THE SUPERIOR COURT (WASHINGTON, D.C.). THE ANALYSIS INDICATED THAT MANY DEFENDANTS WHO WERE CONVICTED FOLLOWING A GUILTY PLEA WOULD HAVE HAD A FAIRLY GOOD CHANCE OF ACQUITTAL HAD THEY DEMANDED A TRIAL. CONTRARY TO EXPECTATIONS, SENTENCE CONCESSIONS WERE NOT ROUTINELY AWARDED TO SUSPECTS ENTERING GUILTY PLEAS. DEFENDANTS FORMALLY PROCESSED DID NOT SEEM TO DIFFER SUBSTANTIALLY IN TERMS OF THE PROBABILITY OF CONVICTION FROM SUSPECTS WHOSE CASES WERE DISMISSED FOR WANT OF PROSECUTION. THE WILLINGNESS OF A WITNESS TO TESTIFY WAS AN IMPORTANT DETERMINANT IN FINAL PROSECUTION. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT PLEA BARGAINING CAUSES THE PROSECUTOR'S SUBSEQUENT WORKLOAD TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY. THE INFORMAL CONVICTION OF CASES, BY INCREASING THE OVERALL NUMBER OF CONVICTIONS WITHOUT REDUCING THE SENTENCES RECEIVED, APPEARED TO REDUCE THE PROJECTED AMOUNT OF CRIMINAL CASES. IT WAS CONCLUDED THAT THE PLEA BARGAINING PROCESS REDUCES CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR, LARGELY BY INCREASING THE NUMBER OF CONVICTIONS WITHOUT OFFSETTING LOSSES RESULTING FROM MORE LENIENT PLEA BARGAIN SENTENCES. PUBLIC BENEFITS DERIVE FROM REDUCED COSTS OF PROCESSING CRIMINAL CASES AND A REDUCED RATE OF SUBSEQUENT CRIMINAL CASES. (DEP)
Index Term(s): Crime Control Programs; Offenders; Offenses; Plea negotiations; Prosecution; Sentencing/Sanctions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50312

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