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An Offer You Can't Refuse Report by Human Rights Watch

Thu 5 Dec 2013

In this 2013 report, Human Rights Watch examined the manner in which federal drug defendants were forced to plea guilty in the face of significant sentencing differentials.

This 2013 report from Human Rights Watch examines the role of plea bargaining in federal narcotics prosecutions. The report includes statistical data illustrating the role of sentencing differentials in these negotiations and the large sentencing enhancements received by those exercising their Constitutional right to trial by jury. In particular, the report establishes that those proceeding to trial received, on average, a sentence three times longer than those pleading guilty. The report also considers the role of mandatory minimum statutes in the creation of such sentencing differentials.

The report also includes case studies regarding the use of sentencing differentials in federal narcotics prosecutions. One example offered in the report is Sandra Avery, who rejected an offer of 10 years in prison and received a life sentence at trial. The report also supplements these case studies with interviews of prosecutors, defense attorney, and judges.

Access the entire report here.