America: Land of the… Guilty?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 25, 2010 in The 2L Life

Good evening y’all! :)

While most folks are out enjoying their Friday nights, I’m dutifully poring over my laptop analyzing data I’ve gathered for tomorrow’s class presentation on plea bargaining. And I’m actually kind of enjoying it :beatup:

One of my research findings that’s really blowing my mind right now is the sheer volume of criminal cases that were filed in my adopted home state of North Carolina just during the 2008-09 fiscal year:  2,594,634 — roughly 1 for every 4 North Carolina residents :eek: About half of these are for criminal motor vehicle offenses (1,048,447) and for quasi-criminal “infractions” (768,922), but that still means roughly 1 in 8 North Carolinians are being charged with a non-traffic criminal offense every year.

Now the Old North State hasn’t exactly been known as a low-crime area, at least in the 12 years I’ve lived here. But it’s not exactly a high-crime state either: according to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports, North Carolina was 18th in the nation in terms of crimes per 100,000 residents in 2008-09. That effectively puts us right in the middle of the country’s bell curve, since there’s a thicket of about a half-dozen states with very close per-capita crime rates occupying the median.

And if we’re essentially at the national median it means, assuming there’s a good correlation between crimes committed and criminal charges filed, that a huge proportion of this country is getting charged with a criminal offense each and every year (and if NC’s data is any guide, about 97% will be resolved without a trial).

Sometimes I’m amazed our judicial system is able to function effectively with that caseload. Can you imagine the mess it would cause if we didn’t have plea bargains at all?? :crack:

Those are my random musings for the night, I’m heading back to presentation prep :) Have a great night y’all! :D

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