Anna Rouw is an OK Policy summer intern. She recently graduated from the University of Tulsa.
One of the most basic rights for Americans accused of a crime is the right to a fair trial before a jury. However, the vast majority of criminal convictions – 90 to 95 percent – don’t happen at trial. Instead, they’re the result of a guilty plea, a deal negotiated by prosecutors and defense attorneys absent a trial. Plea deals allow defendants to avoid the uncertainty of a months-long trial, and in exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors generally agree to reduced charges or more lenient sentences. Plea deals are the norm for a number of reasons, but the justice system’s dependence on them is a serious problem. When nearly all criminal cases are resolved outside of the courtroom, the dangers include racially biased sentences, convicting innocent defendants, and a criminal justice system with little transparency or accountability.
continue reading Plea deals have unbalanced Oklahoma’s justice system