That being said, then, what is the purpose of an Alford plea? If courts treat it as a guilty plea and it doesn't affect sentencing, it seems the only purpose, then, is to convince more people to plead guilty. To give them the intrinsic incentive, that is, to agree to a plea deal because they don't have to actually say they committed the crime.
Another reason I tend not to support these kind of pleas is based on victims' rights. A plea bargain saves the victims or their families, and witnesses too, from having to testify, but it also gives the victims some sense of closure, in that the criminal admits guilt. Confesses. Answers questions. Victims often get to make statements to the accused before they are sentenced. This is an important part of the process, part of our concept of justice, imperfect though it is, and an Alford plea sidesteps it altogether.