Resources

  • SNITCHING: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice
  • U.S. Attorney General's Guidelines on the FBI's Use of Confidential Human Sources
  • Sarah Stillman, The Throwaways, The New Yorker (2012) (article on the use of juvenile informants)

Recent Blog Posts

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Former police chief and prosecutor on the dangers of snitching in USA Today

Here is an important op-ed in USA Today from Miriam Krinsky and Ronal Serpas: "Stop letting prosecutors get away with threatening murder." They chronicle the misuse of informants by law enforcment in Orange County and across the country.  About Orange Country, they write:

"Prosecutors used informants to do what would have been illegal for them to do directly — question individuals awaiting trial without their lawyer present and, even worse, use threats of murder and violence to coerce confessions. . . . These practices fly in the face of the fundamental duty of prosecutors: to seek truth and pursue justice."

Krinsky is a former federal prosecutor and now the Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution.  Serpas is former Chief of Police for New Orleans and now Professor of Criminology at Loyola University.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Connecticut Adopts Nation’s First Statewide System to Track Jailhouse Witnesses

This month Connecticut's governor signed a new law that will establish the first statewide tracking system for jailhouse witness testimony. This measure will help improve transparency and weed out false statements from inmates who expect leniency or other benefits for their cooperation.

Each prosecutor's office in the state will be required to maintain a record of the substance and use of jailhouse witness testimony and any benefits that have been or may be provided. The Governor's Office of Policy and Management will collect the data from every office so that prosecutors can see if a potential jailhouse witness offered similar testimony in other jurisdictions and whether that testimony was reliable. If the prosecutor introduces the statements, previous jailhouse witness activity would be disclosed to the defense.

In addition, SB 1098 requires:
  • Prompt disclosures of jailhouse witness evidence: Within 45 days of the defense filing a request, the prosecution must disclose specific evidence on jailhouse witnesses including: benefits offered for their testimony, their criminal history and other cases in which they acted as jailhouse witnesses.
  • Pre-trial hearings: For rape and murder cases, judges must hold a hearing to screen out unreliable jailhouse witness testimony before it is heard by the jury.
Learn more about the new law in this article.

posted by Michelle Feldman

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Nebraska passes jailhouse informant reform

The new law, signed in April, requires stronger disclosures, tracking of jailhouse informants, and notifications to victims if an informant who harmed them receives leniency.  The law is here, and the Innocence Project wrote about the problem here.  Prior post here.