Brian Banks was one of many defendants who have their legal battles decided by a plea deal instead of a jury verdict. Sometimes the options posed create a decision between impossible choices.

Such was the reality of Brian Banks, who emerged a free man after a decade of probation and incarceration for a rape and kidnapping he didn’t commit. He’s now free of his GPS tracking device, his sex offender registration, and a conviction that seriously endangered his dreams of playing in the NFL.

But with a court system that often finds itself overwhelmed and understaffed, the plea bargain is a tool that enables the swift resolution of a case, freeing up the caseload of prosecutors and public defenders and keeping the court’s calendar open for trials. While their usefulness is rarely questioned, the debate between the balance of pleas and trials continues to be a sticking point and a discussion in legal circles.

From the Los Angeles Daily News:

Ten years ago, a 17-year-old boy sat in the Long Beach Superior Courthouse and was asked to make an impossible decision.

Admit to rape, sodomy and kidnapping that he didn’t commit, waive his constitutional rights and go to prison for up to six years. To toss out a football scholarship and possibly an NFL career and register for a life of ignominy as a sex offender. Or risk everything and go to trial with the chance of spending 41 years in jail, a lifetime in essence.

That was the choice Brian Banks was given on July 8, 2003 while a jury was being assembled to hear his case and determine his fate.

Read the full article here.