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The Ethics of Plea Bargaining$
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Richard L. Lippke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199641468

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199641468.001.0001

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Waiver Rewards and Deserved Punishment

Waiver Rewards and Deserved Punishment

(p.63) 3 Waiver Rewards and Deserved Punishment
The Ethics of Plea Bargaining

Richard L. Lippke

Oxford University Press

The questions addressed concern whether and to what extent waiver rewards comport with a desert-based justification of legal punishment. They might if such rewards are appropriate responses to defendants who spare us the burdens of having to conduct criminal trials. Alternatively, waiver rewards might be cast as useful tools in the expansion of deserved punishment. However, neither of these arguments succeeds in showing that state officials should be permitted to negotiate substantial and variable waiver rewards with defendants. Modest, fixed sentence discounts comport better with absolute and comparative justice in sentencing, and might produce levels of deserved punishment that rival those produced by robust waiver rewards. Once a critical perspective is brought to bear on existing laws and sentencing schemes, it becomes much less clear whether an increase in the number of criminal convictions—the main selling point of robust forms of plea bargaining—yields more deserved punishment.

Keywords:   waiver rewards, deserved punishment, trial burdens, absolute justice, comparative justice, overcriminalization

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