Continual plea bargaining is not real justice

Recently our County Prosecutor was quoted as saying unless Colton Harris-Moore does a consolidated plea bargain in another county, “he will come here and answer for the charges and be accountable.”

I hope this does not mean business as usual. I can’t remember when anyone was held fully accountable on even one charge, much less for multiple crimes. I don’t recall when the last trial took place in Superior Court and few people are aware that virtually every case ends in a plea bargain with other charges dismissed, in exchange for no prison sentence.

Recently an extensive burglary spree resulted in a prison sentence with a low-end term and additional charges made to go away. Someone already serving a prison sentence from another county ends up with a low end concurrent sentence, which adds no additional punishment. Concurrent sentencing equals one sentence for the price of one crime rather than all of them. Consecutive sentencing at least tacks on a additional increment for each crime. I cannot recall reading about either a consecutive sentence or an upper term being imposed in this county even though the criteria is met.

Actually, I cannot remember reading about any court disposition that ever made me feel that any justice was in danger of being done. Those participating in plea bargaining would argue that money is saved avoiding costly trials; however, the costs of crime to victims is incalculable. A prosecutor who unfailingly plea bargains is not prosecuting, and a judge who never sees a plea bargain he doesn’t like is not furthering justice.

Keith Jones