Mandatory minimums and plea bargains

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Conservative's crime bill is the unwillingness to learn from what has happened in the United States. Plenty of evidence regarding the negative consequence of mandatory minimums. Just two days ago the New York Times took a look at how mandatory minimums have influenced plea bargain negotiations.

Some experts say the process has become coercive in many state and federal jurisdictions, forcing defendants to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matters of guilt or innocence. In effect, prosecutors are giving defendants more reasons to avoid having their day in court.

“We now have an incredible concentration of power in the hands of prosecutors,” said Richard E. Myers II, a former assistant United States attorney who is now an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina. He said that so much influence now resides with prosecutors that “in the wrong hands, the criminal justice system can be held hostage.”

The justice system should not be set up in a way that discourages people from trying to prove their innocence. It should be about finding the truth not locking up as many people for as long as possible.