Letters to the Editor

Plea bargaining: A fool's queries

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!


Dear Editor,Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, it is said. Just sometimes, though, the issues may not disturb angels enough for them to tread, but a concerned though unlearned person, such as I, dares to walk or rush in.

I have seen plea bargaining in movies and have read bits and pieces about how it operates in other countries. Now I hear it is being considered for Jamaica and I have serious problems with it. As I tell my students, when you are ignorant, don't pontificate, just ask questions.

So then, let me ask my learned friends in law a few questions:

• How just, really, is plea bargaining as part of the judicial process?

• Is it practically/legally superior to encouraging fabrication or exaggeration of evidence?

• Is it not tantamount to bribing a 'small fry' criminal to nab a 'big fish' alleged law-breaker?

• Is the lighter sentence promised to the small fry that person's commensurate dessert (in light of the original sentence being served); and if so, what would that offer say about the justice of the original sentence?

OK, I know that a plea bargain can be offered before trial begins, and so an accused person is 'encouraged' (read: bribed) with a plea bargain to plead guilty to a lesser offence. But is there really enough evidence to show probable cause regarding a more serious offence or to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt for that more serious offence?

To be sure, plea bargains can save time in court, reduce case backlog, and increase conviction rates for prosecutors, but is any one of these a reason with probative value within the judicial process or simply an expedient?

One online site on this topic, while offering benefits of plea bargaining, says “…plea agreements usually give defendants less punishment than they would receive if they were found guilty of all charges after a full trial…” (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Plea+Bargaining). This point hints at the potential injustice of the practice, and on this I rest my case.

Rev Clinton Chisholm

clintchis@yahoo.com

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT