I was talking to someone the other day about the justice system (the frustration with the “school to prison pipeline” and the injustice which being poor brings, etc. etc.) I had an idea. I chewed on it for a few minutes but the more I’ve thought about, the more I liked it.
Right now, if a District Attorney (DA) gets someone to “plead” to the charge (say they are guilty, pay the fine/spend less time in jail) they get a tally in the “win” category JUST like they get as if they spent 6 weeks arguing in front of a jury and bringing up expert testimony and blady-blady-blah. If they go to trial and LOSE – well they get a tally in the “lost” category.
Attorneys are rated (so to speak) on the win/loss record. An attorney who wins 97% of their cases -damn, they must be a GOOD attorney, right? Well, what if MOST of those “wins” were convincing 17 year olds to accept a deal where they say they are an “adult” who committed a crime and go to jail for 4 years instead of college? What if most of those “wins” are taking a system that is struggling and making the most vulnerable in our society into your own personal ladder of success.
Now, I don’t have a problem with attorneys wanting to say they have a 97% win record. I have a problem with the PLEA being a “win.” It is, at best a neutral.
So companies use this thing called an NPS score to determine if customers are happy. On a scale of 1-10 how happy were you. 1-6 are negatives, 7-8 is neutral, and only 9-10s are positives. They do the math of “I had ## of people give me 1-6, ## of people give me 9-10, throw out the 7 & 8” to get a numerical value of customer happiness.
All I’m saying is when an attorney (in CRIMINAL court) takes a deal it should count like a 7 or 8. It’s neutral. It isn’t good (positive) but it doesn’t have to count against you. So if a person shows up and confesses to a crime they DID commit (I wonder how often that happens….) and they take a deal because they confessed and cooperated… well ok. But the only WIN the attorney gets is in front a judge/jury.
This isn’t a perfect solution. Deals became a VERY useful tool to get small-time drug dealers (even back to prohibition) to roll over on the bigger distributors. It’s been used in racketeering cases …. forever? I wouldn’t want to see DAs encouraged to avoid the plea deal. I just hate that right now it’s a default because it’s an “easy win.” Even possibly putting innocent (or not guilty) people in jail should never be counted as a “win.” We have enough issues of jury trials imprisoning people who might not be guilty.