Report No. 142
3.10. Do the really guilty escape lightly.-
Public attention in America has also focussed on one important aspect of this problem: the extent to which "plea-bargaining" has permitted the defendants to escape the just consequences of their crimes by pleading guilty to reduced charges. The variance between the offence changed and the offence accepted on plea provides highly visible and dramatic evidence of the extent to which the State's interest has been compromised.
The fairness of bargaining practices, however, also depends on how likely it is that the accused would have been convicted if no bargain had been offered. If the case against the accused is weak his plea of guilt can be attributed to inducements that may taint the trustworthiness of his admission. More fundamentally it needs to be examined whether strong pressure has been exercised to compel a confession in weak case and when the prosecutor's zeal to obtain a confession by "consent" begins to collide with the defendant's privilege against self-incrimination.