Plea Deals

Yesterday afternoon, sprinter Marion Jones announced that she will plead guilty to lying to federal agents regarding her steroid use before the Olympics in 2000 (she won a bunch of medals in those games). Like so many other athletes suspected and questioned about steroid use, Jones simply lied about it.

My first thought was “why would she come out now and admit to such malfeasance (OK that’s a bit harsh of a word)?” Because it was part of a plea deal. Apparently they were going to bust her on several other more serious charges related to money laundering and the like.

So in order to escape THOSE charges, she will confess to lesser charges. Now if someone says they’ve used steroids, and you’ve seen their 100 meter times drop from 11.2 to 10.6, I believe them. However, is it only I that question the veracity of criminal plea deals?

I mean, in serious criminal cases, you have people who have been lying to cops, juries, lawyers, judges for some time, and then they are presented with a deal. Tell us that you did such and such, and how you did such and such, and we’ll get you off the hook for other greater offenses.

Does this seem a little weird? Aren’t the defendants just going to tell the courts whatever the lawyers want them to tell so that they can get off the hook? Now I’m no lawyer and I’m sure that plea deals have been very helpful over the years. But I still wonder if the truth is actually what comes out of their mouths, or if its just more lies that will save them some hassle. Maybe its just me.

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