Instigator / Pro
42
1486
rating
79
debates
47.47%
won
Topic

Resolved: Plea bargaining ought to be abolished

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
18
3
Sources points
12
2
Spelling and grammar points
6
3
Conduct points
6
1

With 6 votes and 33 points ahead, the winner is ...

David
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Category
Society
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
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Characters per argument
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Contender / Con
9
1484
rating
1
debates
0.0%
won
Description
~ 1,280 / 5,000

--Topic--
Resolved: Plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States criminal justice system.

--Definitions--
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

--Rules--
1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all undefined resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is evenly shared
9. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
10. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the description's set-up, merits a loss

--Structure--
R1. Pro's Case; Con's Case
R2. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary; Con generic Rebuttal and Summary

Round 1
Pro
Thanks to missbailey for accepting this debate. Looking forward!

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1. Plea bargains pervert justice

A. The Innocent

Defendants are in a very vulnerable situation and will often plea guilty even though they are completely innocent. Those who cannot afford bail and do not want to wait 6 months for the trial will almost certainly plea guilty just to get it over with. According to the innocent project at least 31 people plead guilty to serious crimes like rape and murder to avoid long sentences and to avoid trial. These innocent people served a combined total of 150 years in prison (1). In the case of Robby Ray Dixon they pled guilty to a 1979 Mississippi rape and murder they didn’t commit. After the two men were threatened with the death penalty, they testified against a third innocent defendant (ibid).

The innocent project further breaks down some alarming statistics: 95% of felon convections are convicted through plea bargaining, 18% of those exonerated plead guilty, and 83% of DNA tests pointed to a different perpetrator (2).

If innocent people are forced to plea guilty to serious crimes they didn't commit, how many more are convicted on petty crimes and misdemeanors? That number really cant be known, but it's quite a scary probability. 

B. The Guilty

For those who truly are guilty, bargaining is to their benefit by avoiding trial and getting a super lenient sentences or some serious charges simply dropped. The Human Rights Watch founded the following statistics (3):

  • 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.
Dr. Fawad Kaiser notes (4):

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.
2. Plea Bargains are Unnecessary 

Firstly it must be noted that if a prosector has so little evidence that they can't get a guilty verdict without a plea bargain then the case should not be going to trial. If you cannot prove to a judge or a jury that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt, then a prosector must drop his case. 

Secondly there is empirical data within the United States that shows that banning plea bargains will work. Alaska was the first state to abolish plea bargaining and found that it forced police to become better investigators and case disposition time actually dropped rather than increased (5). There are a few other jurisdictions within the US that have abolished plea bargains with similar effects. 

Conclusion 

The first contention alone is enough to prove my case. It's disgusting that innocent people are forced to plea guilty and guilty people get off too lightly. Plea bargains allow prosecutors, police, and judges to be lazy with their case. Forcing the police to become better investigators and forcing prosectors to screen cases more efficiently will help reduce crime, restore faith in the justice system, and pursue real justice. 

Please vote pro!

Over to you, con! 

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Round 3
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