Overlawyered, which is more a law-reform blog than a tort-reform blog, has a very interesting discussion of the problem of plea bargaining. The winner of Best Comment goes to Deoxy, who writes:
[C]onsider this situation: you are innocent. You are charged with a crime, and the circumstantial evidence against you is significant. Your lawyer advises you that you've got about an 80% chance of being found innocent (best guess).
The prosecutor offers you a deal: plead guilty to a certain set of charges, get 3 months probation. Otherwise, at trial, the charges he will bring (which you aren't currently being charged with - he'll add them, just because he can) charges that carry a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, with a top sentence of up to 25 years.
Now, 80% is pretty good odds... but do you want to bet 10-25 years on 80%? How about 90%?
That is what people are being asked to choose between. Innocent people plead guilty because of choices like that. THAT is why the system is BROKEN.
Be sure to check it out.