Plea Bargaining: Critical Issues and Common Practices

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US Department of Justice; McDonald, William F.
plea bargaining; Criminal Law; Law Enforcement and Corrections
artifact description
This analysis of critical issues in the plea bargaining controversy is based on data obtained in six jurisdictions including structured observations of 711 in-court acceptances of guilty pleas; structured interviews with a total of over 200 judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, defendants, and police officers; a plea bargaining decision simulation and quasi-experiment administered to 138 prosecutors and 105 defense attorneys; and a statistical analysis of case file data from 3,397 robbery and burglary cases. The findings suggest that plea bargaining cannot be abolished but can be changed. The policy choices are: how much of a concession should be given to defendants; which criminal justice official should give it; and what procedures are necessary to safeguard against the institutional weaknesses of the plea bargaining system.