While most Americans believe that the justice system is comparable to CSI, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order, the real American justice system does not work in such a fashion. As one may know, on these television shows, most cases get solved and are brought to justice through a court trial. However, in reality most cases are solved or ended in a plea bargain. Plea bargaining in the United States is one of the most controversial issues due to the fact that the practice of plea bargaining is necessary because of the United States high crime rates, and insufficient facilities and personnel to try all cases. This essay will discuss the reasons people accept plea bargains, courtroom workgroup role and incentives in plea bargaining, and the impact of race on plea bargaining.
What is plea bargaining? Plea bargaining, in the American justice system is "the process of prosecutors negotiating with criminal defendants to secure a guilty plea, the bargain is between the defendant and the prosecutor, with the defendant agreeing to forgo his constitutional right to a trial and plead guilty to one or more charges in exchange for one or more promises by the prosecutor, usually a promise to dismiss other charges or advocate for a favorable sentence"[Dav07]. Upon researching how often plea bargains are used in the United states I found that in 2003 the Bureau of Justice Statistics disposed of 75,573 cases in federal district court by plea or trial, and of those according to Bureau of Justice Statistics about 90% to 95% of both federal and or state court cases were resolved by plea bargaining[Dev11].
Nevertheless, researchers have found several reasons that individuals might accept a plea bargain including pressure from the prosecutor, indirect and direct pressure, and likelihood of conviction. For example, a study conducted by Bordens and Bassett was a quantitative assessment of circumstances in which people would take a plea bargain[Bor851].