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The Contender
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Abolish plea bargains

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/29/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 299 times Debate No: 90397
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (1)




The sole purpose of the United states justice system is to dispense justice. Hence the name. Unfortunately, there is a flaw in the system that prevents justice from being done in about 90% of criminal cases. This flaw is plea bargaining.

Plea bargain is defined as: an arrangement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in the expectation of leniency.

Goal: Justice. I believe that whoever better promotes justice in the justice system should win the round.

What is wrong with the system? Plea bargains are unjust every time. People who take plea bargains are either guilty, or innocent. If they are guilty, they are using a plea bargain to escape the punishment they deserve. If they are innocent, they are confessing to, and being punished for, a crime they did not commit. In either case, injustice has been done. When you consider the fact that plea bargains account for 90% of criminal cases in the U.S., you are forced to agree that with plea bargains in place, the justice system cannot accomplish it's only purpose.

Plan: Plea bargains will be made illegal in the United States.

The advantage of enacting this plan, is that justice can be done. There will still be some wrongful convictions, but in every case, the defendant will have a chance to defend himself, and convictions will be punished appropriately.

Please stand with me in returning justice to the justice system.


Thank you for coming up with this debate. Its an excellent topic.

In life there are a lot of gray areas. Each case has different circumstances. There are a lot of factors that go into someone being charged in the first place. How many charges are against them may vary. The arresting officer or other witnesses involved. Plea bargaining allows for the prosecution and the defense to work through these details before a trail. Going to court is costly. It cost money and time for both sides to go to court. It places a heavier burden on the courts themselves. Which depending on their location may already be overburdened beyond their intended capacity.

The idea to abolish plea bargaining to promote justice is a generalised idealistic solution to complex problems.
Debate Round No. 1


Yes, the prosecution and defence get to work out all those details, and, in the case of a plea bargain, make absolutely sure that justice miscarries.

Yes, a trial costs money, but if the justice system is not willing to spend money on justice, what should it spend money on? You did not contest the point that justice is the purpose of the justice system. In that case, we must spend whatever we must to achieve that goal.

Even under my plan, not all cases will go to trial. Some guilty defendants will plead guilty to save the trouble of court, and in hopes that the judge will be lenient at sentencing.

My opponent argues that the solution is not complex enough to fix this complex problem, but he does not explain exactly how the plan will fall short, or present evidence supporting his opinion. He has merely said that the problem is complicated.

The issue you are presented with is still the same. Every plea bargain is a miscarriage of justice. Plea bargains are used in 90% of cases. We must get rid of this enormous flaw in the system.



It should not be enough for pro to state their arbitrary opinion. You have a burden of proof as well. How is plea bargaining a miscarriage of justice?

I did not contest that justice is the point of the justice system for two reasons. First, that is not the topic of debate. Second justice is the point of the justice system. Pro needs to adequately demonstrate that plea bargaining impedes the justice system. Not whether justice is the point.

90 percent of criminal cases are settled by plea bargains.
The court system handling 10 percent is overburdened.
Doing away with plea bargaining would load overburdened courts with exponentially more burden.
Which would render the court system less effectual.

Nations, states, counties, cities have budgets.
There are a finite amount of resources.
In adult society it is most reasonable to consider cost.

Doing away with plea bargaining is not a plan. The notion addresses no issues that would result.
It is uncertain how many criminal cases wouldn't go to trail without plea bargaining. There's no way to know if judges would provide leniency. If judges did provide leniency isn't that just plea bargaining with a judge as the arbiter. These are things pro couldn't possibly know and shouldn't state as fact.

Justice is the legal and philosophical theory by which fairness is administered.
Plea bargains involve mutual terms set by both parties.
The guilty receives a punishment through plea bargaining.
No one has to accept a plea deal.
Plea bargaining is a just mechanism in the justice system.
Debate Round No. 2


There are two main issues in this debate round: first, that this plan will cost too much and second, that plea bargains do not harm justice.

First, assuming plea bargains are unjust, is the cost of justice too high. Both sides agree that justice is the purpose of our justice system. If we are not willing to spend money to achieve justice, our courts may as well shut down. Can you look a taxpayer in the eye and tell him "We can afford $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows, but justice is too expensive." I couldn't. If plea bargains are unjust, then we should get rid of them whatever the cost. Hire more judges and cut the budget elsewhere!

So the main issue you the judge must decide is the second point: Are plea bargains unjust? My answer is yes. Every time. Justice means giving somebody the punishment he deserves for his crime. Think about the two groups of people who take plea bargains. Guilty and innocent. If a person is guilty, he deserves a sentence of X. In the status quo, he can take a plea bargain and escape his just sentence. If an innocent person takes a plea bargain he is confessing to a crime he did not commit. If that is just, my opponent should win the round.

My opponent made a few other statements which I will respond to here:
If both parties agree on unjust terms, they are still unjust.
The guilty receives "a punishment," but it is not the just punishment meeted out by law.
Actually, there are examples of people will very little choice in the matter. That aside, refer to my first point.
Clearly it is a mechanism, but as I hope I have showed, it is unjust.
We can't know how often judges will be lenient or how often people will plead guilty, but we can assume that some will. Even if none do, I believe that solving this injustice is worth the cost.
A judge is the one who should have power over sentencing. If he is lenient, that is not the same as a plea bargain.

If you see the injustice of plea bargains, please help to stop them.


Imagine there are no plea bargains. Consider a scenario of a murder where the accused is acquitted in a trail. The accused is guilty. The evidence points to the accused being guilty. But for some mistake in evidence collection he goes free. Imagine someone who's innocent but being charged with murder. The prosecutor is able to convince a jury the accused is guilty. The innocent person is sentenced to the fullest extent of the law. Are either of those situations just? Those types of situations happen in real life without plea bargaining playing a role.
Plea bargaining has played a key role in gaining information to take down criminal organizations.
Who are anyone of us to say what a just punishment is? Most sentencing in a trail is left to the arbitrary decision of the judge. Who may have personal reasons for making his or her choice.
Whether plea bargaining exist or not, prosecutor's still have incentive to gain convictions.
Plea bargaining is optional. No one has to take a plea deal.
The court system is overburdened in it's current state. Adding an exponential amount of burden to the court system would be disastrous.
Any adult who understands how the world works knows it is unreasonable to say spend whatever it costs. The only way one could make such a statement is to have no idea what it is to manage money and responsibility in the first place.
In a plea bargain both sides come to an agreeable solution.
The accused is given a punishment the representative of the state sees fit to the crime. Oftentimes a judge reviews the plea deal.
My opponent has not demonstrated how plea bargaining impedes justice. The scenarios pro paints could lead to injustice even in a trail. Clearly plea bargaining is not the determinant factor on whether justice is or isn't served.
Finally my opponent keeps mentioning justice as if he alone has a perfect sense of it. Let me define justice:the legal and philosophical theory by which fairness is administered.
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 5 months ago
>Reported vote: 42lifeuniverseverything// Mod action: Removed<

4 points to Pro (Conduct, Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Great debate both of you. Couple reasons for my vote. I gave conduct to pro because Con did not define justice until his last sentence. That is not really fair Con because justice was an important issue and if you didn't agree with his definition, redefine it in round 2 or round 1, but not round 3. Pro made better arguments in a couple areas. 1: Pros argument that Justice is receiving the correct sentence, was not addressed by Con, Con said that justice would be arbitrary because of judge sentencing. However Mandatory Minimums make that not possible (this is where no research hurts you). Con argued that our system would collapse under the new strain. But Pro pointed out that an unjust society should not be allowed at any cost. If we are going to sacrifice lives to build a just country, keep it just. Also, Con never explained the extent of the collapse, and whether we could pick up the pieces. This point was not fully brought out. I don't agree with Plea Bargains, but I vote Pro.

[*Reason for removal*] The argument points are sufficiently explained, but the voter appears to be under a misapprehension about Con's definitions in the debate. Con provides the exact same definition of justice that came out in R3 in R2, which the voter apparently would be content with. Since this is the sole basis for awarding conduct, the vote produces inaccurate information to award points and thus is insufficient.
Posted by BenD 5 months ago
But if they did that often, people would stop taking plea bargains.
Posted by Youdontknowjeff 5 months ago
The accused would be getting a sentence prescribed by law. If plea bargaining is legal. The sentence is probably the minimum. I will look that up to know for sure. Judges from what I've read still can weigh in or reject plea deals.
Posted by BenD 5 months ago
The bottom line, as I see it, is this: If a person gets a lower sentence by pleading guilty, he is no longer getting the penalty prescribed by law. The prosecuter is bribing the defendant to make his job easier.

As I have said, I don't love the idea myself. It was a topic I have not studied much. I had the idea, and wondered how it would go.
Posted by Youdontknowjeff 5 months ago
How long have you studied the law? How many cases have you reviewed? For all you know most plea bargains may result in the accused getting the minimum sentencing. Which is what a judge may have given. If the sentencing is the same as the minimum is a plea bargain unjust. Also remember if the accused feels they are innocent they do not have to accept a plea deal.
You also need to define what is just sentencing. How do you figure the sentencing in a plea bargain is unjust? Because it's less than a maximum? If a just sentence is what the law says it is than whatever the outcome of plea bargaining is just.

Another thing about your friends vote that is troubling is he assigns you no burden of proof. You should have defined justice seeing how you originally asserted it wasn't being served.
Posted by BenD 5 months ago
Who says the debate is limited to 3 rounds? :-)
Posted by BenD 5 months ago
Using logic! You could never give an example of a just one! Not in a million years.
Posted by Youdontknowjeff 5 months ago
You didn't prove anything. You asserted they are unjust.
Posted by BenD 5 months ago
The only reason I thought I won was that I think I proved they are unjust. If that is proved, then the rest falls apart.
Posted by Youdontknowjeff 5 months ago
I also gave a definition for justice in round two as well as three. And thst is the reason for your conduct vote. Did you even read the whole arguement?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lwittman 5 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Plea bargains still come with some form of punishment.