Readers on plea bargaining.

Readers on plea bargaining.

Readers on plea bargaining.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Dec. 13 2002 10:59 AM

A Bargain at Twice the Price

The Fray on American justice, racial and otherwise.

Readme my rights: Michael Kinsley contends that the plea bargaining system has made false confessions more likely as defendants are encouraged to trade their constitutional rights for "a few years off" a sentence. WatchfulBabbler points out that the pressures may be worse on prosecutors here:

[E]ver-heavier prosecutorial caseloads have had the same effect, and may be an even more-important factor. More-efficient law enforcement agencies, the centralization of populations (and hence criminals) into fairly small urban areas, the complex webs of conspiracy that underlie many information-age crimes, and the continually-extending criminalization of behaviors all contribute to a caseload that makes plea bargains attractive to prosecutors.

And while dozens of posts have pointed to the culpability of the "wilding" youths—at least for assault and robbery and perhaps even in the rape case itself—TheSlasher-8 reminds us what the "guilty of something" argument forgets here:

There seems to be little question that the five were involved in bad stuff that night, and you hear this point raised as justification for the fact that they served time for a crime they did not commit. About this, one can only say that people have a very perverted notion of what the word "justice" means when it's not THEIR asses on the line.

There are many very good responses, as their usually are to a Kinsley piece. See Publius' long post here and baltimore-aureole's here

Best of a bad Lott: Nothing has the Fray more exercised than Trent Lott's comments and the fallout. In the Today's Papers Fray, ben-sf asks what the best thing about the whole mess is, and his amped-up answer here is that it wrecked Strom Thurmond's birthday:

As Thurmond limps off into the dustbin of history, the sounds that ring around his departure are not the congratulatory, diplomatically-put words of praise he, Lott and the other segregationists wanted, but the thunder of his own racist demogoguery; the nadir of his infamous career back to haunt him and the racist white voters of South Carolina and Mississippi who endorse these vicious dinosaurs time after time after time.

Return of the MAC: The federal government wants financial clearinghouses to have working backups 200 miles from New York, a distance that Dan Gross finds "arbitrary" and "designed to sap strength from the New York metropolitan area." The Moneybox Fray isn't so sure; several posters think the 200-mile limit is designed to help the system withstand a nuclear attack (not that they claim to be experts). Joan thinks  the most troubling thing about the proposed rule is not the damage it might do to New York, but the underlying message:

But the redundancy plan also carries the inference that there is no hope of actually winning this "War on Terrorism." It sounds much like a survivalist blueprint for businesses ... should the "outposts" for these banking concerns and other financial houses be draped in camouflage?

(Not to indulge in any personal punditry, but isn't the significance of all this Ford administration retreading more a determined effort to bypass the Reagan guys than a fondness for gerontocracy? [What about Poindexter?—Oh, riiiight ...])