Resolved: Plea bargaining ought to be abolished
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With 6 votes and 33 points ahead, the winner is ...
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Resolved: Plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States criminal justice system.
Plea Barganning: an arrangement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in the expectation of leniency.
Ought: indicates moral desirability
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R1. Pro's Case; Con's Case
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R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary; Con generic Rebuttal and Summary
- Defendants convicted of drug offenses with mandatory minimum sentences who went to trial received sentences on average 11 years longer than those who pled guilty (215 versus 82.5 months).
- Among first-time drug defendants facing mandatory minimum sentences who had the same offense level and no weapon involved in their offense, those who went to trial had almost twice the sentence length of those who pled guilty (117.6 months versus 59.5 months).
- Among defendants who were eligible for a sentencing enhancement because of prior convictions, those who went to trial were 8.4 times more likely to have the enhancement applied than those who plead guilty.
- Among drug defendants with a weapon involved in their offense, those who went to trial were 2.5 times more likely to receive consecutive sentences for §924(c) charges than those who pled guilty.
Plea bargaining undermines the integrity of the criminal justice system. Instead of establishing a defendant’s guilt and sentence though an impartial process with a complete investigation and an opportunity for the defence to present its case, prosecutors take on the role of judge and jury, making all determinations based on the probability of whether they will win or lose at trial. The end result is a decision that has little to do with the primary objectives of the criminal justice system.