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Title: Bargain justice : plea bargaining and negotiated punishment
Author: Hawkins, A. J. O.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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Plea bargaining is frequently regarded as a deeply troublesome phenomenon. A negative view of plea bargaining is widely held, yet seems often to be little more than received knowledge. With this in mind, this dissertation reassesses plea bargaining to ask whether in some circumstances, the process might in fact be justifiable, or at least preferable to the traditional model of trial which it subverts; and if so, under what conditions. It also examines the dynamics of the bargaining process, and how these are shaped, in order to ask whether there are any aspects of plea bargaining as negotiation which could be developed to make this form of criminal case resolution more just and acceptable. Part One provides a theoretical picture of the plea bargain. An introductory chapter suggests two useful outlooks on plea bargaining as an instance of dispute handling, and as a negotiated process. Chapter Two takes an external perspective, locating negotiation within the ecology of disputing processes more generally. Chapter Three moves to an internal perspective, in order to examine the actual dynamics of plea bargaining decision-making. Part Two turns to the outcome, process, and organisational values of plea bargaining. Amongst other things, the discussion addresses various pervasive critiques of the practice, such as that it results in like cases being treated differently; that it is coercive; and that it is a mere vehicle of efficiency. A third and final part (Chapter Eight) draws some conclusions about plea bargaining. I suggest that plea bargaining may in fact be justifiable in some circumstances, and offer some prescriptions for the satisfactory running of systems of negotiated justice (many of which are pertinent whether plea bargaining is officially favoured or not). I also comment on themes emerging from the thesis which are larger than the particular issue of plea bargaining, such as informality and discretion within criminal justice systems, and the need for theoretical synthesis of existing empirical research relevant to a given phenomenon.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available