Thursday, November 6, 2014

URSP Student Jacob Simkovitz Deconstructs Plea Agreements in Federal Court

My first semester at Mason I took University 100; a one credit course designed to orient freshman to university resources and programs.  One of the components was a presentation by the OSCAR office about the idea of undergraduate research, and what programs Mason had to offer. I laughed and said that’s not for me. A year later I was taking a Criminology course with Dr. Reiter and she told me about her upcoming research project and offered me a position as a research assistant, after some hesitation I accepted. The project is called “The Anatomy of a Plea Bargain” and is looking at the components and individual congestions offered in plea bargains. Unlike most of the current research it is not looking at the ethics or the benefit verses the detriment to the justice system. Initially I was hesitant but after giving it some thought I decided to give research a try.  Much to my surprise I liked it and I was able to take the project in new directions infect in November I will be traveling to San Francisco to present at the American Society of Criminology annual meeting.

After graduation I plan to pursue a law degree and then hopefully becoming a Federal Agent. Working on this project for even such a short period of time has given me a view into our legal system that most students don’t get to experience. This project has thought me more about prosecution or crimes then I ever expected to learn as an undergraduate. This project will with out a doubt give me insights will help me analyze the plea bargaining debate and other aspects of law and criminal procedure in law school.

Week to week and day-to-day my project is to code plea bargain in Qualitative Data Analysis Software. This will allow us to review the individual data points instead of looking at the plea bargain as a hole. At that end of the project the recorded data well be analyzed for its frequency and variations between prosecutors in phrasing.

This week was very busy and learning time management is becoming more and more important. Mastering time management is a constant learning process and it makes it possible for me to complete my research and my other studies. I think that is one of the most important things that I have learned thought this process; not only will it help me with this project but future projects and anything that I choose to do.