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Controlling Felony Plea Bargaining in California - The Impact of the 'Victims' Bill of Rights'

NCJ Number
C McCoy; R Tillman
Date Published
91 pages
The application of interrupted time-series analysis to case processing in three California jurisdictions before and after the 1982 passage of 'The Victims' Bill of Rights' (Proposition 8) determined the impact of the law on plea bargaining and enhanced sentences for habitual offenders.
Proposition 8 restricts the use of plea bargaining in serious felony cases and drunk driving cases, and it increases sentences for habitual offenders. Quantitative data on case processing before and after the law were obtained from offender-based transaction statistics, which tracks the processing of all persons arrested on felony charges. Qualitative data were collected from interviews with prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and court administrators in Alameda County, San Diego County, and the Compton district of Los Angeles County. Although Proposition 8 did cause a statistically significant increase in the use of certified pleas, it was only a slight increase beyond the level that would have been attained without the law. The increased use of imprisonment after Proposition 8 was the continuation of an earlier trend. Findings support the organizational theory that the impact of any law on the criminal justice system is limited by the internal organizational dynamics operating within the criminal justice agencies. 12 tables, 11 figures, chapter notes, and appended data discussions.