A recent story in the NY Times describes how tough sentencing schemes have given prosecutors a large amount of leverage to exact plea deals from defendants. Given the crazy sentencing schemes like California’s three strikes, discussed previously here, defendants are increasingly pleading guilty to crimes. Although tough sentencing schemes may provide increased deterrence from crime, the leverage granted to prosecutors may be exacting guilty pleas from innocent defendants who are simply afraid of the worse-case scenario.
If you were innocent and looking at the chance of getting 25 to life or could sign a plea deal to one year in jail, what would you do? How much faith do you have in our jury system?