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Argument: Plea bargains are a necessary way to relieve an over-strained justice system

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Argument's parent debate(s)

Supporting evidence, quotes, and analysis

  • Judge Michael McSpadden, criminal court judge in Harris County (Houston). PBS Interview. December 16, 2003 - "Why are there so many plea bargains in this country? 'The public, I'm sure, is suspicious of it. A lot of people call it a necessary evil. I look at it as a necessary component in our criminal justice system, mainly because the great number of cases we deal with -- If we had an ideal situation, where every case that came in was tried before a jury who speaks for our community, we would be sending these cases for 10 years down the road to be tried. There just aren't enough courts to try these cases before a jury because the of number of cases...We have between 30 and 40 cases in our court on our docket every single day, and we're an average docket. We have 15 new cases this morning. If you spent a month on every case, again, these people would not have their case come up for years down the road. That's unfair to them; it's unfair to a lot of people who want their justice done right now. So you do the best you can, because the numbers involved -- It's hard. I would love to be in a small jurisdiction. I'm sure there are some where you get one new case per week; spend all the time in the world on it. Really, in that type of case, it would be ideal to try every single case that comes in. You got plenty of time. Bring the jurors in. It tells the court exactly what the community wants to do in every single case. That's not going to happen in a metropolitan area. You'd have to spend billions of dollars to have that many courts, to have that much time. Just not going to happen.'"
  • Judge Caprice Cosper of the Harris County Criminal Court in Houston, Texas in a 2004 PBS Interview:[1] - "The system would collapse if every case that was filed in the criminal justice system were to be set for trial."

Books and resources making this argument

  • Buckle, Suzann R. Thomas. Bargaining for Justice: case disposition and reform in the criminal courts. New York: Praeger, 1977. Examines the functionality and practicality of plea bargaining in the way of equity (getting to all cases), efficiency (speedy processing), and necessity (maintaining the integrity of the court system).

Counter-arguments

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