Instigator / Pro
Points: 42

Resolved: Plea bargaining ought to be abolished

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 6 votes the winner is ...
Virtuoso
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Society
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Con
Points: 9
Description
--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
Published:
Thanks to missbailey for accepting this debate. Looking forward!

---

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! 

Sources
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Round 2
Published:
Vote pro
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Round 3
Published:
Vote pro 
Forfeited
Round 4
Published:
Vote Pro
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Forfeited
Added:
--> @armoredcat
ROFL!
Instigator
#18
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
"Also people exonerated from DNA evidence ought to get at least 1 million for every year in jail." $1 million seems like too much for just one year in prison.
#17
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
It is much MUCH MUCH higher. I've even gotten the opportunity to question cops/prosecutors about their tactics behind closed doors and they've told me that these defendants weren't guilty of the crimes they were charged, they were probably guilty of something else anyway so it all works out in the end. Disgusting.
That is utterly horrendous and deplorable. No wonder no one trusts the cops!
Instigator
#16
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
"They need to thoroughly examine the witness and the evidence before getting an arrest warrant or trying the case."
They say they do, but sometimes I wonder. Had a case a couple of weeks ago in which the my client, a mother, was defending her son against a college-aged female wielding a knife. The son got his arm slashed up and the mom receiving ample cuts and bruises. The police arrived and arrested the mom despite this. I got this stupid charge dismissed ultimately, but my client still ended up losing her good paying job in the process.
"I cited an alarming number of innocent people who plead guilty to murder charges. I shudder to think how many innocent people were convicted of lesser crimes."
It is much MUCH MUCH higher. I've even gotten the opportunity to question cops/prosecutors about their tactics behind closed doors and they've told me that these defendants weren't guilty of the crimes they were charged, they were probably guilty of something else anyway so it all works out in the end. Disgusting.
"The fact the law encourages innocent people to testify against another innocent person is kinda disgusting."
It makes even the shittiest of prosecution cases into viable cases when you can threaten/blackmail witnesses into testifying.
#15
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
The fact the law encourages innocent people to testify against another innocent person is kinda disgusting.
Instigator
#14
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
I agree.
They need to thoroughly examine the witness and the evidence before getting an arrest warrant or trying the case.
I cited an alarming number of innocent people who plead guilty to murder charges. I shudder to think how many innocent people were convicted of lesser crimes.
Instigator
#13
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
"The biggest issue I see with rape cases and sexual assault cases is that it's really their word against his. Unless it's collaborated by quite a few people (as in the Cosby case) it's really impossible to prove without DNA evidence."
Which is sad because the victim's testimony alone, by law, is sufficient to convict you. Sadly, a great deal of alleged victims have used this to their advantage (whether it be to get back at ex-husband/boyfriend or to get ahead in a divorce or child custody dispute). And even if you do manage to beat the charges, that doesn't rid of you of the stigma of what you were charged with in your community, the time you spent in custody (especially if you couldn't make bail), the job you've no doubt lost due to the charge, the money you are no doubt out of if you weren't indigent already and the emotional distress you've suffered (some of which will be suicidal). We have a truly diabolical system in our country (nothing like what the founders envisioned) and all you can do is hope and pray that you don't wake up one morning until to find out that you have become the government's next target.
#12
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
The biggest issue I see with rape cases and sexual assault cases is that it's really their word against his. Unless it's collaborated by quite a few people (as in the Cosby case) it's really impossible to prove without DNA evidence.
Instigator
#11
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
That's rather disgusting. Openly committing perjury and filing false charges in court should not be tolerated. At minimum she should be forced to pay the defendant his legal fees AND pay the state back for whatever it cost to try the case
Instigator
#10
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
"Also if anyone files a false charge, they should get the same time the other perosn would have gotten."
DAs offices are generally hesitant to do that. On the one hand, prosecuting a false charges case makes their office look bad for having previously prosecuted an innocent person in the first place (they'd rather sweep it under the rug). On the other hand, there *generally* (as in it does happen, but not often) just isn't enough political capital involved to make prosecuting, for example, a woman for lying about rape or domestic assault case worthwhile. It's sad, but that's how they see things. I recently had an order of protection violation case in which I was able to expose the alleged victim on the stand for telling a bald faced lie (of which she walked back on her allegations and blamed it on being so "afraid" of my client). During my closing argument, I jumped up and down about how she committed blatant perjury and how the DA's office needs to prosecute her. All I got from the judge and the prosecutor was crickets.
#9
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
Agree. Also if anyone files a false charge, they should get the same time the other perosn would have gotten.
Instigator
#8
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
"I agree 100%!
Also people exonerated from DNA evidence ought to get at least 1 million for every year in jail."
You'd be surprised. Even when the law demands that these exonerated defendants get a payout, the State will fight tooth and nail to see to it that that doesn't happen. Just look at this example: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/lawrence-mckinney-wrongful-conviction-tennessee-75-lawyer-dna-evidence-petition-governor-bill-haslam-a7478396.html
The beauty of rape cases is that they involve DNA and thus exonerating these defendants can be done in a concrete/fullproof fashion. But just imagine all of the criminal defendants who plead guilty and whose cases don't involve any DNA whatsoever. They have zero recourse and are currently sitting in jail for something they didn't do. It's a f-cked up system and something needs to change.
#7
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
Exactly! Innocence is completely irrelevent today. Defendants are already in a altard state of mind and they're just bullying them into accepting a deal regardless if they are innocent
Instigator
#6
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
What prosecutors do is that they stack a bunch of trumped up charges onto each other and tell defendants that they'll drop all but one charge if they plea guilty and that they'll prosecute every charge and push for a consecutive sentence if they don't plea guilty. Many times, this winds up being the difference between serving a couple of years and a couple of decades in jail, so of course the "logical" decision is to "plea guilty" regardless of guilt or innocence. To the defendants, it is about how much they are willing to risk fiddling around in an otherwise rigged system.
#5
Added:
--> @Logical-Master
I agree 100%!
Also people exonerated from DNA evidence ought to get at least 1 million for every year in jail.
Instigator
#4
#6
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Con's forfeit was an amazing argument, but I'd give the slight edge to Pro overall because of her great responses to Con's Contentions. The part where he said "Extend" was especially intelligent.
#5
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
My hands are tied, I plead guilty to voting for Pro.
#4
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full forfeit by Con.
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
FF for Con
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full forefeit.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full forfeit on Con's part.