Plea Bargain as a Contribution Cause of Racial Disparity among Prisoners
The rate of incarceration in the United States has rapidly increased over the last three decades. There is an approximate number of 2.3 million prisoner’s n the United States despite the steady decline of criminal cases. In terms of races, criminal cases are the equal in all but incarceration rate among the Hispanics and Blacks is at an increased level compared to the White race. In the comparison of incarceration among races, studies have shown that in seven of White individuals one of them is likely to be imprisoned as compared to one in three adult Black males. Plea bargaining according to this literature review paper is the main cause of the racial stratification in prison which is at a high rate and is also the cause of high population in prison cells in the United States today.
Plea bargaining is a system which allows a prosecutor to get convictions of the minority and poor defendants who are way below the market rate. To secure convictions at a low rate boosts the prosecutor’s number of disposition which he can obtain. The blacks additionally do not trust the court system and justice and as a consequence have little outcome expectations from the system compared to the Whites. Therefore Black defendants are not placed in a good bargaining position as compared to their white’s counterparts making them to just accept even the worst plea bargains.
According to findings from Pew, 2008, the United States prisons are highly populated with a total number of 2.3 million prisoners. This makes the United States to be the top leading country in prisoner’s percentage and big population size. This high number of prisoners does not mean that there is increased rate of criminal incidence, but instead the criminal incidences and crimes have greatly declined over the years (USIDOJ, 2008). More so, all races have equal criminal activity (SAMHSA, 2008), but incarceration rate among the Hispanics and the Blacks is more than the Whites rates. According to Scalia, 1999, many Hispanics and African Americans are likely to spend their lives in prison compared to their White counterparts.
This confirms the hypothesis that in seven Whites one of them is likely to be incarcerated compared to one in here Blacks (Boncaar, 2003). Despite these statistics being known not much has been done to establish the story behind the facts. The main reason is that there are an increased number of prison admissions more than the sentence length.
The large number of the minorities in prison is due to the 19980 fight against drugs. Since 1980 to the presents there has been an increase of drug offenders clicking up to 40, 000 million people in 2003. Many of the drug offenders are the African Americans (King, 2008). The black convicts imprisoned due to drug related cases made up n to 40% of all drug related case (Duros& Lnahman, 2002).
The American Justice system incorporates plea bargaining just like in most countries criminal justice system. The system did not use plea bargaining in the first half of America justice history (Padgett, 1990).The aspect of plea bargaining in the criminal system has been debated in many academic and public cycles. This started way back in 1970 when chief justice Burger called for the need to reduce the percentage of plea bargains from 90 to 80 so as to increase the demand for court reporters, clerks, judges, court room, beliefs and jurors. The plea bargain proponents argue that the elimination of plea bargains would be increasing expensive. Some argue that plea bargains are of great benefit to both the criminal justice and the defendants. Some however see that plea bargains is a concept which is generally problematic.
The twentieth centaury saw the great use of plea bargaining within the criminal justice system. The increase of work load among the prosecutors and judges has led to the creation of the theory of plea bargaining. This is an s a result of reducing the number of cases which become complicated and intensive, thus the plea bargains come in to save time. There has also been the development of policies which have improved the concept of plea bargains. Lastly plea bargains have resulted to positive feedback especially from its lighter sentences.
Over the years scholars have largely dealt with the analysis of plea bargains, m Richard Posner article on Economic Analysis of law (2003), examines the defendant’s side point of v view of plea bargain which denies him the right of trail. And prom the prosecutor’s side of view, plea bargain leads to a short period of sentencing. He also argues that plea bargains abolition would lead to criminal defendants waiting longer for them top be tried.
William Landes, (1971), gave the basics assumption of plea bargain which each party both the prosecutor and the defendant have a probability of winning. This winning is based on the costs of trail and the sentence cost. The defendant is given an opportunity to maximize and this maximum utility will make him accept the least option of bargain which is the plea bargain.
Rhodes 1976 also augured that the changes effect on both the defendant and prosecutor’s budgets have to be deduced. The increase of prosecutor’s budget according to him increased the number of trials and prosecutions. The protestations are increased because the prosecutors have the resources and the trial number increase is due to the prosecutors less inclination to in offering concessions. This makes the defendants participate in their rights for trials. The increase of trail costs on the defendants leads to the increase of prosecutions as many prosecutors accept the guilt which ultimately unlocks the budget of the prosecutor.
Aldelstein, 1978 accused Landers opinion that the parties increased investment leads to increased trial incidences. Aldelstein urges that based on the sixth amendment, defendants are entitled to trial representation and trails at the expense of the government yet still there is low number of trails. He argues that plea brains is an insurance device for the state and innocent defendant and also separates guilt from the defendant through making a better offer that the trial sentence but when the defendant is innocent, then the offer will be worse.
Katz and Grossman have studied cases which show that it is highly likely for an innocent defendant to plead guilty. This is because the defendants know for sure that innocent or guilty, the probability of conviction is only known to the prosecutor. This is because the strong case given by the prosecutor leads to increased chances of the defender being on trial.
Kobasyashsi and Lott (1996) give an expanded explanation of the expenditure model given by Lander and also they incorporate the model by Grossman and Katz. The authors argue that only three terms given by a plea bargain. Bases on Katz and Grossman, the authors state that there is high chance that guilty defendant’s mindset that they are likely to be sentenced for a longer duration than those who are innocent. This makes them to accept pleas which are not accepted by the innocent defendants. The authors also discuss the concept of differential defense expenditures which is a means through which the innocent defendants get assurance that they will face lower penalties
In general the idea of benefits and costs is the factor that contributes to defendants accepting the plea bargain. This happens any time the plea bargaining costs is lowered from the trial cost that the defendant is facing. A prosecutor will accept the plea bargaining at any time when the benefits of bargaining subtract the trail costs. Though this may seem simple calculations to be done y the prosecutor in dealing with the defenders case, for defendants to make decisions they will have to turn to the social norms and heuristics. Whenever there is a minority defendant, he may accept the plea which is worse than what the whites would accept these results to incarceration rate which is disproportional.
The initial cots consideration according to the defendant is the expected cost of the plea. This includes economic cost and the actual time of prison. This saves the convict from inability to obtain employment in the future due to bad record and also to save time (Fisher, 2003). The benefits of the defendant to accept the plea bargains also means saving him from the psyche costs of being away from ones family and community and helps him from undergoing the emotional torture of being behind bars after one has lost his freedom. Prison life is associated with premature death and physical anomalies which are costs which the defendant can save by accepting plea bargain. These future costs can be saved when the defendant makes calculations related to these aspects in comparison to the plea bargain (Sustein, 2000).
The plea bargain seem as the only alternative for both an innocent and a guilty defendant because the costs incurred in the court are much cheaper than when one is found guilty.The evaluation of defendant is that where he considers the future cost of conviction. This is based through the consideration of the conviction probability which is then multiplied by the sentence expected. It is the defendants who know whether or nit they are guilty. The many researchers carried out by Landes, 1971, Grossman and Katz, Reingammm, 1988, Rhodes 1976 and Kobasyashi and Lott 1998 are all based on the economic cost model.
Many defendants are generally ignorant of both the law and the weight of evidence which make them convicts and also the evidence rules which control any information which can be used agonist a person. This means that the rules of process are not known to manta. This makes the in innocent person to plead guilty (Kassin et al, 2003) through assuming any information made against them to be law.
The attorneys and prosecutors have a role to play in pushing convicts to plea bargains. As cases get longer, private defense attorneys feel the pressures of doing away with the case because they are not paid for extended hours. To also uphold their reputation, they would not accept themselves to loose a case. Also because these attorneys are almost of the time overworked, they find little time to process information or even lack information of a convict. This makes them to relay on heuristic rules (Sunstein, 2000). The heuristics are the shortcuts which people use in making decisions. This leads to unfair biased decisions.
B The economic models researched by the authors also suggest the possibility of defendants to thinks of themselves as being actually guilty but he knows he is also facing the chances of being convicted,. Therefore, what really matters to them is the plea bargaining model and its use in relation to his chances of conviction.
Many defendants particular the black Americans and the Hispanics perceive the court system as being unjust and unfair according to research. They see that they receive harsher treatment than the white within the criminal justice system (Weitzer and Tuch, 1999)
The many findings form the basis of this projects argument that the plea bargain which is disguised as the design making process in a rational way and the basics markets forces is what can adequately give an explanation of the prison system, racial disparity in the United States. Those involved in the criminal justices who are the defendants and prosecutors are the main cause of racial disparity due to their rational decisions which can be assumed to be based on self interest.
In the analysis of this decision, it is clear that they are attached to the aspects of different socioeconomic background and social norms leading to the making of decisions which are made for individual party within the judicial process, the decisions are made along the defendant racial line which contributes to the defense by race in prison.
The inequality in prison is not solely contributed by plea bargain but it facilitates it and also it a filter of cost which are lower depending on the defendant’s social class. Crimes can be classified in to two. There are those crimes with have high evidence or white collar crime and the low level crimes which are related to aspects of gang criminal activity and drugs. The white collar crimes are very expensive and investigations may take ages. Drugs crimes on the other hand are fast and inexpensive. This makes the prosecutors to concentrate more on the poor defendants who commit low level crime. The African Americans generally have little faith in the system of criminal justice and therefore they expect little outcome from the criminal justice process. And they expect the worse from the plea deal. These social norms make black defendants to accept plea bargains which are less beneficial.
Future for the research
Racial disparity in the American prisons is a phenomenon which needs to be investigated; this research ahs based its cause in the contributions of plea bargain using the costs model. For future research alternative models based on plea bargain such as psychological and social models can be used to study the same phenomena. Future research can also focus on alternatives which can reduce the effects of plea bargains among the minorities. There is need to incorporate the aspects of ethics within the system. peoples should be taught the law and what their personal rights are to avoid chances of them being branded as convicts without adequate evidence.
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