Studies have found that 2-8% of all guilty pleas were made by innocent
people. Considering the United States' prison population of 2 million,
this means that anywhere between 20,000-80,000 innocent people are in prison.
The author proposes a solution, which seems workable to help address this:
A mediation program in criminal cases presided over by a judge (not the
presiding judge). Basically, a counterpart to settlement conferences in
civil cases. These mediations would be sealed hearings and would address
many of the issues which exist in the current plea bargaining process
(only 3% of federal cases go to trial) by balancing out the disproportionate
bargaining power of prosecutors. The focus would be on the actual facts
of the case and whether a person is actually guilty of the crimes charged.
Instead of what plea bargaining is now, namely, a focus on mandatory minimum
sentences, potential prison exposure, and how a defendant can minimize
risk by taking a quick plea to avoid a prosecutor’s wrath.
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