In the article “Innocence Is Irrelevant” from the September 2017 issue of The Atlantic, Emily Yoffee wrote:
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged this reality in 2012, writing for the majority in Missouri v. Frye, a case that helped establish the right to competent counsel for defendants who are offered a plea bargain. Quoting a law-review article, Kennedy wrote, ‘Horse trading [between prosecutor and defense counsel] determines who goes to jail and for how long. That is what plea bargaining is. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system.’
As prosecutors have accumulated power in recent decades, judges and public defenders have lost it. To induce defendants to plead, prosecutors often threaten ‘the trial penalty’: They make it known that defendants will face more-serious charges and harsher sentences if they take their case to court and are convicted. About 80 percent of defendants are eligible for court-appointed attorneys, including overworked public defenders who don’t have the time or resources to even consider bringing more than a tiny fraction of these cases to trial. The result, one frustrated Missouri public defender complained a decade ago, is a style of defense that is nothing more than “meet ’em and greet ’em and plead ’em.”
“Our system makes it a rational choice to plead guilty to something you didn’t do,” Maddy deLone, the executive director of the Innocence Project, told me [author Emily Yoffee].
Take a position. Is plea bargaining an effective or ineffective alternative process?
First, title your post either “Plea Bargaining Is an Effective Alternative Process” or “Plea Bargaining is Not an Effective Alternative Process.”
Then, using the information gained in this module and the resources noted above, make your case. Based upon the volume of court cases, the societal implications, and the impact that plea bargaining has on the defendant, do you believe that plea bargaining represents justice? Why or why not? Be sure to build your case with factual resources.
In your response to your peers, consider how well they justified their position, making use of available resources. Consider the following questions in your response posts:
Did they support their position convincingly using appropriate resources?
Which of their points make the most sense to you, even if you made a case for the opposing viewpoint?