A nation of plea bargains / by kevin murray

According to the nytimes.com, “about 97 percent of criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains;” this flies in the face of Constitutional guarantees of an impartial jury, as well as a speedy and public trial.  To a certain extent, this isn’t any real surprise, that so many cases end up being plea bargained, for as reported by statista.com, from 1990-2017, there was not a single year in which arrests in America was less than 10 million peoples, and with that amount of people being arrested, the only way to process through all of those arrests, is to create some sort of an assembly line, which plea bargaining, most definitely does.


There are several problems with plea bargaining, of which the most obvious one, is that rather than those that have been arrested having the presumption of innocence, they are instead, more or less, presumed to be guilty; which is why prosecutors, having presumed the arrestee as guilty, at least of something, thereby make it a point to bargain with the offenders in a manner in which a deal or “bargain” can be struck.  Further to the point, the laws on the books are often so onerous and stringent, that prosecutors are able to use those laws, strictly interpreted, to wield considerable power over the accused, so that if they are unwilling to accept such a deal, and should they thereupon be convicted in a court of law, their subsequent sentence and punishment will be far greater.  Additionally, while most sensible people see plea bargaining as an unfair advantage that the prosecutor has over the accused, that unfair advantage has an awful lot to do with the fact, that poor and disadvantaged arrestees cannot afford their own counsel, and are thereby stuck with overburdened and overwhelmed government sponsored defense attorneys.  On the other hand, those that have money, don’t mind plea bargains, whatsoever, because money buys whatever justice that those that have been arrested can negotiate on their own behalf, in which, those that have a lot of money can buy all sorts of influence, which is why corporate criminals, especially, are almost always able to negotiate or “bargain” their way to a very satisfactory resolution.


This means, that plea bargains, should be seen for what they really represent; which is a way to wield “justice” as a hammer at the expense of the poor, as well as a way for the rich to buy “justice” at the expense of the general population as a whole.   None of this is to America’s credit, and all of it actually is to its discredit, for the poor and regular folks in the vast majority of the cases, simply have to cut the best deal that they can against a prosecutorial agency that has every advantage and none of the disadvantages in structuring a deal made at their discretion.  Of course, when it comes to the very rich, prosecutors love plea bargaining, because it allows the prosecutorial agency to broker a deal, behind closed doors, that will allow the prosecutorial agency to declare that justice has been served, when in actuality it has been bought, with the tacit understanding that the prosecutor can thereupon spin the story to the credulous public in whatever manner benefits that office.


In point of fact, plea bargains, are just one very small step remove, from what occurs in totalitarian states, that simply lock away those that are an inconvenience or a trouble to the state, simply because there is no power to stop them; as well as having the corresponding power to extort or negotiate with those that have money, appropriate tribute.