Take a moment to reflect on the various choices you made in the simulation and their outcomes. In one paragraph, discuss how both individual and societal factors influenced your decision-making and how these decisions can be understood using sociological concepts.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with over 2.3 million citizens in correctional facilities. This rate is partially due to the role of plea bargains in criminal sentencing. A plea bargain offers a concession to the defendant—usually less time behind bars—in exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
You are 26 years old and work as an overnight security guard at a community college making minimum wage. You have a 3-year-old son. You live paycheck to paycheck but have a small savings of $1,250 put away for emergencies. A coworker tells you they are looking for a new apartment and asks if you can hold a few boxes of stuff until they have moved into a new place. You agree to hold the boxes and put them in your car. It’s 5 a.m. on Saturday, and you’re on your way home from your shift. You are pulled over by the police, who say your car matches a description of someone they are looking for. They search your car and the boxes. Inside the boxes are pieces of jewelry and small electronics. They tell you these goods are stolen and arrest you. After being in county jail for three days, you see a judge and she sets your bail at $5,000. With a bail bondsman, it will cost you $500 to post bail. If you stay in jail, you might have enough funds to have a lawyer handle your entire case. Family members have been caring for your son.
Do you spend $500 from your savings on posting bail or do you stay in jail?
You post bail for $500
You are free from jail and return home to your family. Now you wait to be contacted by your state-assigned public defender and for your court date.
The median bond amount in the U.S. represents eight months of income for the typical defendant
Thirty-seven percent of incarcerated people have an annual income of $9,489 or less.
Forty-four percent of incarcerated people have annual income between $9,490 and $31,655.
You are fired from your job for missing work, leaving you with no future income. You use your savings to pay this month’s rent, with no money left for a lawyer.
You are assigned a public defender and your court date is next week.
Due to the amount of cases on your lawyer’s schedule, she is able to meet with you only one hour prior to your court time.The state’s prosecutor offers you a plea bargain.
You can plead guilty to a lesser felony and serve six months in jail or you can take your chances at trial, where this felony offense carries a minimum sentence of two years in jail.
You will serve less time in jail but you will have a felony on your record.Though you tell her you are innocent, your lawyer encourages you to take the plea bargain. You take the plea bargain
Though you tell her you are innocent, your lawyer encourages you to take the plea bargain. You take it, not wanting to risk two years away from your son.
Social control is the process through which individuals and groups in society are compelled to conform to social expectations.
The primary tool of social control is socialization, a process of teaching society’s rules to its members. In addition to socialization, sanctions may be used as tools of social control.Negative sanctions punish society members for failing to conform to social rules. One of the strongest negative sanctions a society can impose is imprisonment.Eighty percent of those charged with felonies live at or below the poverty line. About 90% of cases with felony charges never go to trial.Since the 1980s, the U.S. has seen an increase in individuals in jail who were not convicted of a crime. They simply took a plea bargain.Minorities and low-income individuals are more likely to take a plea bargain even when they are not guilty of the crime.
This is due to the perceived threat of a harsher penalty when they go to trial, especially without the means to afford a lawyer.
You are booked on the day of your court date and sent to jail. By taking the plea bargain, you are socially controlled through an extreme negative sanction, even though you were only an unwitting accomplice to a crime. Your period of incarceration, though brief, will likely have unforeseen negative effects, such as decreasing your employability after incarceration.