Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.
Foreword: I apologize for the delay in this release; unfortunately because of final exams, the January topic is often released much later than I would like. When there is a trade-off between the quality of the file and the timeliness of the release, I’ll choose the former, but I know it puts most of you in a time crunch so for that I’m very sorry! I hope you will find this file particularly useful because the evidence is unique, and so is the perspective. I had the privilege of studying criminal law this semester with the leading critic of plea bargaining, Professor Alschuler. I’ve used the strategy guide to make his arguments, as well as the arguments of other legal commentators, more accessible to you.
95 percent of defendants choose to forfeit their substantive rights and plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a lesser sentence. As a result, the protections afforded to criminal defendants in court are often irrelevant in practice. Prosecutors and defendants alike have determined that plea agreements serve their interests, and the plea bargaining process is efficient, but is plea bargaining consistent with the principles of the criminal justice system? Given the prominence of plea bargaining in the system, this question is one of great importance.