The problem with plea bargaining
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The problem with plea bargaining book
This chapter considers different views of the objectives of the procedural system for criminal cases, of which plea bargaining is a critical component. The importance of plea bargaining in the operation of this system has naturally made it the target of considerable scrutiny. The chief concern of critics, however, has not been that it inefficiently prices crime, but rather that innocent defendants might be induced to plead guilty by the promise of a lesser charge. The earliest economic models of plea bargaining simply viewed the prosecutor as seeking to maximize the expected punishment of offenders, either as a proxy for deterrence or a reputational effect, less the cost of trial; and the defendant as minimizing his expected sentence plus the cost of trial. In this formulation, the punishment is essentially a transfer payment from the defendant to the prosecutor, and so bargaining between the parties simply divides the mutual gains from avoiding trial costs.