When someone is a "longtime police informant," as the Seattle Post Intelligencer described Devaughn Dorsey, it means that person has had a long-term relationship with police and/or prosecutors in which the government has ignored his crimes, or lessened his punishment, in exchange for information. When that person also happens to be "one of Seattle's most violent criminals . . . [who] has shot no fewer than eight people since 1990," it illustrates the most troubling aspect of criminal informant use--that the government is tolerating crime from its information sources in pursuit of new cases. See this previous post --Violent robber-snitch formed new home invasion gang--discussing the dilemma of informants who continue to commit crime while working for the government.
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A significant problem that has not yet received sufficient attention: protecting young and vulnerable informants. This story in the Missoulian is about how police handled Colton Peterson, a suicidal 21-year-old who was working for them as a drug informant: "Family believes son's suicide partly caused by law enforcement's conscription as an informant." The story raises some of the same issues that caused Florida to pass "Rachel's law" after 23-year-old Rachel Hoffman was killed while working as an informant. See these previous posts: "Florida's 'Rachel's Law' offers some protection for informants" and "Recruiting new informants." Under Florida's new law, police must now consider certain minimum factors before recruiting a person as an informant, including the person's "age and maturity," and "whether the person has shown any indication of emotional instability." My deepest condolences to Colton's parents, Juliena Darling and Frank Peterson.
The Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit recently filed this motion asking the court to take protective measures to prevent jailhouse snitches from being created in the case of Kansas v. Adam Longoria. Asserting that "Mr. Longoria has no intention of talking to anyone but his attorneys about the facts of this case," the motion requests that the court "take measures to ensure that no jailhouse snitches or other suspect informants are created in this case to manufacture evidence for the state." This proactive defense tactic appears to be getting more common (see previous post: Interesting effort to preempt jailhouse snitching).
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