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March 18, 2024 58 mins

University of San Diego law professor Donald Dripps joins us to educate us on the plea bargain system which has essentially replaced what we think of as our criminal justice system. Prof. Dripps explains why defendants waive their right to a jury trial by pleading guilty, why defense attorneys recommend taking a plea, why prosecutors offer up "deals" for alleged criminals, and the ramifications of "self-conviction." He discusses which cases tend to get pled out, in what jurisdictions, and if folks who have pled guilty are ever exonerated. He explains how mandatory sentencing minimums increase the pressure to take a plea, along with trial delays, the "trial penalty," and overburdened public defenders. Despite some of its injustices, the plea option acts like a pressure valve on our bloated criminal justice system. Prof. Dripps describes some improvements that could be made and warns us that, in its current state, the system is vulnerable to certain strategies which could bring about its collapse. A fascinating view into a complex legal network.

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