Sample Essay on Plea Bargaining and Probation


Plea bargaining is a legal process whereby a defendant and the prosecutor come into a mutual agreement that is satisfactory to both of them. In this process the defendant of a criminal offence agrees to pledge guilty to the offence before it reaches the trial stage and the prosecutor on the other hand gives terms that are lenient sentences.  Most defendants would opt for plea bargaining because of the knowledge of the outcome if the process is successful.

Limitations of Probation and Parole

As much as this recognized by courts, it seems to negate the very essence of any judicial system. There is no need for the prosecutor and the offender to agree on a crime, only to be promised lesser sentence. It beats login and the need to seek for justice using a definite system (Carney 23-24). The first disadvantage comes from the fact that the defender is likely to receive crime after committing a major crime, something that may disadvantage the complainant. On the same note, there is a possibility of a petty offender receiving a sentence more serious than what could have been, in case of full trial. This is a serious limitation that negates the very essence of the American judicial system. In light of these concerns, there is need to find out the need to adopt plea bargaining and probation in order to terminate cases of come up with quick judicial resolutions. This may mean that individual cases should be looked into in order to gauge the need to adopt plea bargaining. Of course there are other concerns, especially of the rising cases within the judiciary and the need to reduce the backlog.

Counter Arguments

Nevertheless, plea bargaining is widely practiced in the United States’ as well as other judicial systems. Different law scholars argue that the process has numerous advantages than any limitations noted. According to Morash (102), plea bargain provides a shorter rout to justice and therefore reducing the backlogging of cases in the courts, meaning that it helps in faster termination of cases. It also remains useful involving petty crimes that do not warrant trail. This system also helps solve cases that their outcome is of interest and might cause family or relation breakdown. He argues that where family disputes are involved it is important in ensuring that the family unity is not disoriented or disturbed.

Plea bargaining has some benefits though in many case the benefit are enjoyed by the defendant. Plea bargain may lead to dropping of charges that may lead to deportation of offenders who are non-citizens. It also helps avoiding publicity in cases where private or both the defendant and the prosecutor require privacy. Publicizing of criminal charges can be stigmatizing to both the defendant and the offender. Plea bargain may lead to the defendant being released from jail. This helps defendant who cannot afford bail. The prosecutor agreement to drop charges will see him out of jail. It also enables the defendant to move from jail to prison. At the prisons the defendant is able to get more privileges that are not offered in the jail. This process may lead to the defendant having fewer petty offences put under one record, thus leading to a lighter sentence. Plea bargain reduces social stigmatization associated with the offence. This happens when the prosecutor reduces a serious crime into a lesser one e.g. a rape case may be changed into an assault therefore the defendant will not have to get registered as sex offender which is much stigmatizing. It also protects the defendant from stigmatization by family members, friends and even colleagues. Plea bargain locks out others from the case. This happens where the defendant pledge guilty quickly so as to take up someone else’s blame or to terminate the case so as to lock out other interested parties who may change the dimension of the offence.

Probation is that activity which takes place when an offender or criminal is being released to the community where by he must be supervised. Probation is perceived as the commonly used form to punish law breakers.  Statistics shows that about 61 % of the law breakers are punished under probation. It allows the defendants to stay free in the community but being supervised by a prison officer .Parole takes place in a situation where by an offender who has already undergone some period being detained in the prison is being given permission to serve his remaining sentence under supervision in the community (Morash 102). There are some benefit of probation and parole to the law breakers who are under imprisonment.

According to Fisher in his book: Plea bargaining’s triumph: A history of plea bargaining in America,there is only a small fraction of cost spent in housing the criminal offenders who are under detention as far as probation and parole is concerned, for example, in the United States sixty eight billion dollars per year ($68) is being spent to correct the offenders (53-55).In order to cut the cost of probation and parole the US Government has implemented alternative standards for ensuring effective management. Probation and parole helps in addressing the issues of the prisoners/criminal offenders who might have been overcrowded in the prisons and this provides enough space. The offenders who are under probation are not violent but the ones released after serving some sentence in the prisons are said to be very violent (Fisher 43-44). Through use of probation and parole actions, beds in the prison are being freed up and this provides enough space to accommodate the offenders who are violent and this remains an advantage to the entire community because violence will have been minimized. Proper management of probation and parole helps in reduction of recidivism[1] by thirty percent (30%). Reduction of recidivism rates is of great importance since it helps to minimize crime rate thus increasing the safety among citizens. This ensures unity and cooperation in the society because there is no any fear. Employment has greatly increased as a result of practicing probation and parole in the US as the criminal offenders who are released are being given opportunity for jobs in which might be permanent. With these jobs the defendants are in a position to support them and to an extent contribute to payment of government taxes thus contributing to economic growth. Restitution which is a program aimed at ensuring that defendants contribute or donate some amount of money to the victims who committed crime in the society is also another benefit of probation and parole. Restitution helps in making the defendants responsible in the society (Encyclopedia of crime and justice2). The federal government has introduced new policies in the prison sector which are very strict in order to reduce the crime rate in the country. The residents who are found violating laws undergo imprisonment in a state prison and this action of them being convicted is decreasing crime rates (Fisher 44).


In conclusion, it is apparent that plea bargaining is popular; however, the justice system and the government must work together in ensuring that justice is achieved and offenders are integrated back to the community. The process may lead to serial petty offenders who are used to a negotiated plea bargaining system. Use of plea bargain should be analyzed to ensure that justice prevails and the prosecutor is not under pressure to agree to terms and conditions of the process. Otherwise, there may be the likelihood of endorsing a flawed judicial system.


Carney, L. P. Probation and parole: Legal and social dimensions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1977. Print.

Encyclopedia of crime and justice: 4. New York, NY: Free Press, 1983. Print.

Fisher, G. Plea bargaining’s triumph: A history of plea bargaining in America. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press, 2004. Print.

Morash, M. Women on probation and parole: A feminist critique of community programs & services. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2010. Print.


[1]Recidivism is a situation where by an offender commits crime again after being taken out of prison