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University of Michigan Law School

Series

Criminal Law

Criminal Law and Procedure

2007

Articles 1 - 1 of 1

Full-Text Articles in Law

The Prisoners’ (Plea Bargain) Dilemma, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar Jul 2007

The Prisoners’ (Plea Bargain) Dilemma, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar

Law & Economics Working Papers Archive: 2003-2009

How can a prosecutor, who has only limited resources, credibly threaten so many defendants with costly and risky trials and extract plea bargains involving harsh sentences? Had defendants refused to settle, many of them would not have been charged or would have escaped with lenient sanctions. But such collective stonewalling requires coordination among defendants, which is difficult if not impossible to attain. Moreover, the prosecutor, by strategically timing and targeting her plea offers, can create conflicts of interest among defendants, frustrating any attempt at coordination. The substantial bargaining power of the resource-constrained prosecutor is therefore the product of the collective ...