It seems the attorneys were getting together & deciding what punishment the defendants would face, before going before a judge to announce what lesser offense they'd accept.
Here's the money quote, from a report by KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage:
According to an annual report by the Alaska Court System, 90.1 percent of felony cases ended with a plea bargain of some sort.
This puts the decisions back in the hands of the judges. It doesn't change the sentencing laws nor the penalties already on the books.
So how do I know it's a probably the right way to go? This morning's news has interviews with attorneys bemoaning the fact that they'll have to "put in more hours of preparation."
So ... they'll have to earn their fees? All together now: awww.