Research Report An Exploration of Prosecutorial Discretion in Plea Bargaining in Philadelphia
Andreea Matei, Lily Robin, Kelly Roberts Freeman, Leigh Courtney
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As we have come to reckon with our nation’s overreliance on carceral punishment and the mass incarceration of people of color, particularly Black people, experts are turning to a key system point that is the primary method for resolving most criminal cases: plea bargaining. Despite the wide use of plea bargaining, little is known about the practice, largely because it happens outside of public view and little is documented by the key actors involved—prosecutors. To better understand prosecutorial discretion in plea bargaining, the Urban Institute was funded by the MacArthur Foundation through the Safety and Justice Challenge Research Consortium, which is managed by the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance, to conduct a study on plea bargaining policies, practices, and outcomes. Urban partnered with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to assess the various influences guiding prosecutorial plea bargaining decisionmaking, what trends in plea offers and outcomes exist, and what the perceptions of other key actors look like.

Research Areas Crime, justice, and safety Race and equity Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
Tags Alternatives to incarceration Black/African American communities Courts and sentencing COVID-19 Corrections Crime and justice analytics Delinquency and crime Mass incarceration Policing and community safety Racial and ethnic disparities Racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice Reentry Community supervision Structural racism
Policy Centers Justice Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis Data collection Qualitative data analysis Quantitative data analysis
States Pennsylvania
Cities Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
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