Plea bargaining is easy justice’
Recent Journal reports informed readers of serious criminal cases that were plea bargained down to far lesser charges. In my opinion, no indicted case involving a human death should ever be mitigated by plea bargains, especially when it involves the death of a helpless child. All the facts in such cases should be aired in open court and prosecutors should not have the discretion to bargain away the severity of the charge: “Let’s make a deal to hide this, don’t mention that and forget about the other thing.”
Plea bargaining is ingrained in our judicial system nationwide and has been for decades. Prosecutors always claim, “It saves taxpayer money.” The bargaining also makes the prosecutors’ job so very much easier. They don’t have to carefully prepare or try a case before a jury that might decide against them. When judges accept plea bargains they become complicit in a cozy scheme of “easy justice.” A plea of guilty to a lesser charge clears the docket, bypasses the jury system, speeds and eases the process. But is it justice?
In another recently reported case involving serious charges of theft of services from a local innkeeper and kidnapping of a victimized woman, the charges were reduced to practically nothing. The defendant’s bail was set aside and he was released. Who knows if he will show up for sentencing or ever make restitution?
Changes in our DA’s office are overdue and on the way. Two candidates are now in the running for this very important elected office. How do they regard plea bargaining? Mr. Furse? Mr. Hughes? Tell us what is your position on “easy justice”? Local voters have a right to know how these candidates intend to manage their office and apply the law.
H. C. Petley