It's rare to get this much data about informant practices. The New Jersey ACLU has released this important study of confidential informant practices across the state, based on scores of documents, cases, interviews, and government policies. According to the study,
The use of informants in drug law enforcement in New Jersey was found to be largely informal, undocumented, and unsupervised, and therefore vulnerable to error and corruption.
Governor Brown just signed important new legislation requiring corroboration before a jailhouse informant can testify. SF Chronicle story here: Law requires corroboration of cellmate's testimony. California joins Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Idaho, and several other states that require safeguards to counteract the well-documented unreliability of jailhouse snitch testimony. Here is part of the bill:
A jury or judge may not convict a defendant, find a special circumstance true, or use a fact in aggravation based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant.
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