An Offer You Can’t Refuse- Plea Bargains

Some prosecutors in the United States of America have lost the plot. The purpose of prosecuting offenders is to protect the public from crime. By successfully prosecuting criminals, society can exclude the criminals from it by locking them up in prison. That at least is the theory and the justification of depriving individuals of their liberty.  However it seems to rarely work like that. The system is distorted by plea bargaining.

Where there are several people all having different degrees of responsibility for a crime, prosecutors often offer them a lenient sentence in exchange for a plea which convicts those also involved in the criminal act. This often means that the worse perpetrators get the most lenient prison sentences while those on the periphery of the crime get the most severe sentences.

This particularly happens in drugs cases; in 2002 Darlene Eckles got a mandatory 20 year term for helping her brother count out the proceeds of drug dealing in an attempt to get him out of her house. She got 20 years, after pleading not guilty, believing that she had not done anything wrong; there was no suggestion that she was involved in the drug dealing except to the extent that she counted out the money. Her brother, who pleaded guilty before Ms Eckles, got a bargain – only 12 years in prison.

This kind of plea bargaining is unjust. It does not deter or prevent crime and prosecutors who indulge in it have lost the plot. The shameful way in which this activity is regularly done is reported in

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