Showing posts from March, 2021

The History and Psychology of Plea Bargaining and the Trial Penalty

In 2019, the Federal Sentencing Reporter published a special two volume collection on plea bargaining and the trial penalty. You can review the table of contents from the volumes on the journal's website . It is a wonderful collection of pieces exploring this issue from various perspectives.  As part of the collection, I was invited to write about the history of plea bargaining and the issue of innocence in a piece entitled, Bargained Justice: The History and Psychology of Plea Bargaining and the Trial Penalty, 31 Federal Sentencing Reporter 239-247 (2019). A draft of this article is now available on SSRN. The Article's Abstract: This article beings with an examination of the historical rise of plea bargaining and discusses how bargained justice emerged from a deep common law tradition that had rejected the use of incentives to induce confessions of guilt. This introduction to the subject concludes by considering the language used by the Supreme Court in 1970 to diverge from th

Report Regarding Guilty Pleas in England and Wales

A recent report by the Sentencing Academy regarding pleas of guilty in England and Wales contains interesting information regarding the practice of plea bargaining across the pond.  From the report: Most defendants are convicted after entering a guilty plea, rather than following a trial. In 2019/20, 78.6% of cases concluded in the magistrates’ courts were resolved by a guilty plea (Crown Prosecution Service, 2020, p. 31). The figure was slightly lower (73.3%) in the Crown Court (Crown Prosecution Service, 2020, p. 34). Defendants plead guilty for a variety of reasons. For example, some may experience remorse and express this through a guilty plea. Many defendants perceive a high likelihood of being convicted at trial and wish to secu re the reduced sentence available if they plead guilty. Others may plead guilty to avoid the stress arising from going to trial (Gormley and Tata 2020).  While not as high as U.S. guilty plea rates (which can reach almost 98% at the federal level), these

ABA Criminal Justice Section Plea Bargaining Task Force - Call for Comment

  Call for Comment   American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Plea Bargaining Task Force The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section has created a task force to more closely examine the role of plea bargaining in our modern system of criminal justice.  Its goal is to develop both broad policy oriented goals for the criminal justice system and, where necessary, specific recommendations for changes in the way plea bargaining operates within the larger criminal justice environment.  These issues will be examined from the perspective of all those involved in the criminal justice system, including prosecutors, defenders, defendants, judges, victims, and others. To date, the task force has had the opportunity to hear from a number of advocacy groups, researchers, and policy makers regarding the benefits of the plea bargaining system, the negative consequences resulting from our reliance on plea bargaining and the current structure of the plea bargaining system, and