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The Judicial Benefits of Plea Bargains and Alternative Sentencing

The popular yahoo boy “Hushpuppi” was recently sentenced to 11 years after the U.S. government agreed to reduce his sentence in return for being a cooperating witness to solve other pending criminal cases. In addition, American attorneys in the U.S. Central District of California in Los Angeles argued that he should be asked to pay $1.7million in restitution, $500,000 in fines, and $100 in administrative fees. Reducing his sentence with the payment of fines while rendering help to the U.S. government is a great achievement in combating such criminal enterprises.

For instance, in a criminal case of stealing in Nigeria, when a young man is convicted, the law provides that such be met with imprisonment. Due to the prevalence of this offense, harsh punishment is prescribed by the law. On the other hand, the justice system could look at each case, the circumstances of the offense, and the age of the convicted, followed by the imposition of a lesser punishment and a fine.

Though the case of Hushuppi is serious, and the punishment meted out is justified, the correctional centers will be decongested in the long run, and justice will be served simultaneously.
In cases of assault, instead of long-awaited months in prison by the defendants for the verdict of the court, the court can initiate community services and heavy fines to take care of the victims of the assault where the defendant is proven guilty of the offense.

The main objective of sentencing is deterrence and rehabilitation. A classic case of a need to reform our judicial policies is the popular Netflix show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, which tends to reveal the inadequacies of correctional centers and the judicial system in the U.S.

I remember appearing before the court, where the magistrate asked me why I didn’t tell my client to plead guilty to a crime if he was indeed guilty of the offense. The magistrate further explained that it is not in all cases that an offender is sent to correctional centers, but they can also be sentenced to a certain duration of community service.

If courts can embrace this strategy by looking at their dockets on a case-by-case basis, including the rights of the victim, then we can have the complimentary infrastructure with highly skilled personnel to ensure supervision of offenders in cases of non-custodial sentencing.
HRF provided free legal representation for indigent inmate, Lekan Adeyemi. He was discharged and acquitted on November 4, 2022, after being incarcerated for 3 months without evidence of a crime committed.

L-R: HRF – Legal Associate, Ni’mah Ali; Released Inmate, Lekan Adeyemi at the Ogba Magistrate Court, Lagos State.

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