Paying the Pied Piper at a Discounted Rate

The AP reports  that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, charged with sixteen counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder in relation to the deaths of sixteen Afghan villagers, will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. (His wife told ABC News that he was incapable of such an act–I wonder how she’s taking this news).

It strikes me that his guilty plea shouldn’t be taken at face value, having been coerced from him at the prospect of death. It seems to suffer from the same reliability flaw as a confession extracted under torture. If Bales gives very detailed testimony, that will alleviate the problem somewhat but this seems like a less than ideal context in which to receive his plea.

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