Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New York Times Article re Plea Bargaining and Over-Incarceration

The New York Times has an interesting opinion piece today from David Brooks regarding "The Prison Problem."  The article focuses on over-incarceration and examines what might be driving this phenomenon outside of the usual suspects, such as the "war on drugs" and mandatory minimum sentences.  The piece argues that while the "war on drugs" and mandatory minimums certainly played their roles, there is also much to be said for the impact of changes in prosecutorial behavior over time.  In discussing the role of prosecutors, Brooks mentions the role of plea bargaining.
District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges. Twenty years ago they brought felony charges against about one in three arrestees. Now it’s something like two in three. That produces a lot more plea bargains and a lot more prison terms.
Brook's piece is well worth a read.  I look forward to a future opinion piece from Brooks looking more closely at the role of plea bargaining in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Brook's piece also references a recent documentary on Angola prison, entitled "Angola for Life."  It's an interesting documentary that explores an infamous prison that has gone through many transformations over the years.


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