So we tolerate a legal system where over 95 percent of all cases are resolved with a negotiated plea—bargained down from what the wrongdoer rightfully deserved. That means that convicted criminals are rarely asked to truly repay their debt to society. Even worse, this math-phobic system tragically discounts the debt owed to the victim, who is grossly shortchanged.
By definition, plea bargains are breaches of the social contract, because they enable states to leave unfulfilled their obligation to punish on behalf of their citizens. These are the very same citizens who, through the force of law, have been deprived of their ancient right to personally enact revenge. The justice system can’t have it both ways: outlawing personal vengeance while at the same time devaluing legal punishment.