Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education


Traditional wisdom suggests those who lose at trial for a criminal charge receive a heftier prison sentence than those who plea bargain. Plea bargaining reduces strain on the courts, expedites adjudication and may indicate the defendant's propensity for rehabilitation as they accept responsibility for their actions. Some ask why two people charged with the same crime should receive different sentences based on the adjudication method. The Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial. Innocent defendants may decide to plead guilty for a sure short sentence rather than risk a trial conviction's lengthier one. This study using statistical procedures examined 12,786 adjudicated drug crime cases between 2004 and 2007 from the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois. It sought to determine if adjudication method, plea bargain vs. trial conviction, predicted prison sentence while controlling for independent variables such as ethnicity, gender, statute violated, offense seriousness, quantity and interaction effects.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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