US: Forced Guilty Pleas in Drug CasesThreat of Draconian Sentences Means Few Willing to Risk Trial
Human Rights Watch
Dec. 09, 2013
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Federal prosecutors routinely threaten extraordinarily severe prison sentences to coerce drug defendants into waiving their right to trial and pleading guilty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In the rare cases in which defendants insist on going to trial, prosecutors make good on their threats. Federal drug offenders convicted after trial receive sentences on average three times as long as those who accept a plea bargain, according to new statistics developed by Human Rights Watch.