Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Death of a young Washington informant inspires new legislation

Jeremy McLean was a young informant who was threatened and eventually killed by a heroin trafficker. Jeremy's story--and his parents' lawsuit against the police-- was featured in the widely-read 2012 New Yorker article on the risky use of young informants. The Daily News subsequently ran this in-depth four-part series detailing the specifics of how Jeremy came to be an informant after he developed an addiction to pain medication, the threats against his life, and the police's inaction that contributed to his death: Death of an Informant, Part I.

In January, Washington State Senator Adam Kline introduced legislation, SB 5373, that would regulate the use of drug informants like Jeremy. The bill would ban the use of informants who are 16 years old and under, require police to tell informants about their obligations and potential rewards in writing, and establish new accountability mechanisms for keeping track of informant use. It's an important bill, particularly the restriction on using juvenile informants which few states currently have.