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Two Thoughts on Plea Bargaining (From Courts and Criminal Justice, P 35-51, 1985, Susette M Talarico, ed. - See NCJ-98113)

NCJ Number
S M Jordan
Date Published
17 pages
Plea Bargaining is examined in relation to the concept of social justice in Western society and is found to depart from the ideals of social and criminal justice in several ways.
Plea bargaining is justified on two grounds: as a means of obtaining the offender's testimony against others for whom evidence is insufficient and as a preferable alternative to the risk that an offender will be acquitted. The plea bargaining system operates within the American concept of social justice, as characterized by freedom, equality, and security. Legal justice, as sought through the justice system, and social justice are interdependent. Plea bargaining diverges from the ideal of justice in two ways: (1) it disrupts the proportionate relationship between the offense and the punishment and (2) it establishes criminal justice through market forces rather than through a deliberate process of reason. Plea bargaining produces a gap between what is proclaimed as a consequence of lawbreaking and what actually happens to certain offenders. Making justice a market value also demeans it. However, these problems do not necessarily invalidate the practice of plea bargaining. Plea bargaining has major negative dimensions and should be practiced reluctantly due to its inherent ambuiguity. Seven references are listed.


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