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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Courts - "On average, 97 percent of defendants plead guilty in federal court."

Thanks to Sentencing Law Blog to the pointer today to this Dec. 6th article in The Atlantic authored by Andrew Guthrie Ferguson. It begins:

This week’s release of the Human Rights Watch Report, “An Offer You Can’t Refuse,” confirms that harsh sentencing laws have undermined the American jury system. On average, 97 percent of defendants plead guilty in federal court. For crimes that carry a minimum mandatory sentence, going to trial has simply become too risky. As Human Rights Watch reports: “Defendants convicted of drug offenses with mandatory minimum sentences who went to trial received sentences on average 11 years longer than those who pled guilty.”
The Report itself is titled "An Offer You Can’t Refuse" and is described:
The 126-page report details how prosecutors throughout the United States extract guilty pleas from federal drug defendants by charging or threatening to charge them with offenses carrying harsh mandatory sentences and by seeking additional mandatory increases to those sentences. Prosecutors offer defendants a much lower sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. Since drug defendants rarely prevail at trial, it is not surprising that 97 percent of them decide to plead guilty.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 10, 2013 12:57 PM
Posted to Courts in general