• 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)

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Monday, April 27, 2020

Jailhouse snitch exoneration in Detroit

Ramon Ward was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1994 based on the testimony of two jailhouse informants and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty-five years later, the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office in Detroit moved to vacate his conviction and he was released in February of this year.  Story from The New Republic here: He Was Wrongly Imprisoned for 25 Years. It Wasn’t DNA Evidence That Got Him Out.

Of particular note, Ward's wrongful conviction was secured in part because Detroit police went around the prosecutor's office to obtain benefits for their informants directly from the judge.  As one prosecutor actually observed during Ward's trial, “promises of leniency are made to these snitches without approval—or prior knowledge—which exceeds police authority and violates our policies.” That same prosecutor worried about wrongful conviction: “I have been told," he wrote, "that snitches do lie about overhearing confessions and fabricate admissions in order to obtain police favors or obtain the deals they promised.” 

Ward was not alone: his wrongful conviction was part of a pattern of Detroit police practices in the 1990's.