Friday, July 06, 2012

Snitching here, there and yon

Grits wanted to point out several compelling items related to confidential informants, including issues related to using juveniles as snitches, for readers who don't happen to follow Prof. Alexandra Natapoff's Snitching blog.

First, the New York Times Magazine ran an item last week titled "A Snitch's Dilemma," also publishing an interview with the reporter who wrote the extensive story. The feature focused on Alex White, an informant, drug dealer and hustler in Atlanta who outed several crooked cops (three went to prison) in order to protect himself after a drug raid on the wrong house resulted in police shooting a 92-year old woman named Kathryn Johnston, after which police planted marijuana in her house. Radley Balko, who followed the case closely when it happened, has a good discussion of new revelations in the article. See additional, recent coverage of the case from the Tallahassee Democrat.

Also, earlier this year the Miami New Times ran a three part feature (here, here, and here) about Bosco Enriquez, a former juvenile gang member whose cooperation with police resulted in his being beaten with baseball bats and later raped while in federal custody before being deported. Opined the reporter, "I have spent the past two months combing through mountains of dusty court files that document Enriquez's case, as well as the personnel file of Serralta, the officer who recruited the boy. The result is an outrage. Local educators and police, as well as federal immigration authorities, failed this kid. Cops both in Miami and across the nation need more oversight when they use children to snitch. The current system stinks."

Commenting on Enriquez's story, Prof. Natapoff wrote, "Juvenile informants often incur terrible risks with little or no protection from the legal system. For an indepth look at the phenomenon, see Andrea Dennis, "Collateral Damage? Juvenile Snitches in America's Wars on Drugs, Crime and Gangs," 46 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 1145 (2009)."

Natapoff also recently pointed out another academic article focused on a watered-down reform law in Florida, dubbed Rachel's law after a murdered informant, arguing that the central provisions eliminated before passage gutted the heart of the much-ballyhooed reform measure. "The Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice has published this note, Toward Efficiency and Equity in Law Enforcement: 'Rachel's Law' and the Protection of Drug Informants. It focuses on an important provision in Rachel's Law that was eliminated, that would have required police to provide potential informants with counsel." See earlier Grits coverage of the measure.


Narking said...

My youngest daughter snitches on her sister all the time. If she wasn't 4, I'd tell her to hush and stop this "narking" on her sister because I wanna save that concern for the teen years - when she's got the really good stuff.

texasred said...

Most of the "law enforcement agents" in this country COULdn't find their way to the nearest doughnut shop without a snitch and yet they(the snitches) are treated as less than second class citizens by the very people by rhe people whose jobs they are doing. Another testement to the carchater of our law enforcement officals.

Tedbyrd said...

As always, Grits, your stories and links are insightful and relevant. I saw a show on Frontline in the late 90s about federal snitches in Alabama- almost all of the busts investigated were snitch driven, people simply turning on friends to save their own skin- this is what the drug world has always been about, but is also a wider narrative on drug laws corrupting everyone they touch, and pusillanimous politicians pandering for votes-

Phillip Baker said...

Snitching is definitely a double edged sword. Law enforcement makes deals all the time to get a better case on somebody they want more than the snitch. That has a place in investigations, I think. The problem is that LEO's simultaneously consider the informant to be scum, deserving of no concern on their part. I'm now trying to help a IDDM inmate in the federal system get medical care. He rolled over on his 2 co-defendants to shorten his sentence by 5 years. The problem is that those cops who made that deal then informed the other two, and then passed the information on to the prison system. Every unit he goes to, quickly all the security staff know about him and pass that on to the inmates.

Informants may be needed to make cases, but anyone thinking of cutting a deal should know that cops have no "gratitude", no morals. no quandaries about putting that informant's life in danger.

The system works only if you can trust the cops to keep their end of the deal. But they don't.

ColeenSanLeon said...

When my son was in high school (6 years ago) in Pasadena he was caught up in drugs, had a few possession charges and knew who the say medium sized players were. When he graduated we moved to Galveston County, I puthim through rehab and it was make it or break it time. Told him to never go through that town again, yeah you know what's comes next. He goes to see a friend and Pasadena Police picked him up and held him fir days without ever filing anything On him trying to get him to setup this one dealer. The detective is letting him use his cellphone to call me to get a phone number off of his laptop. I said NOPE. I send my pastor down there to see him, they won't even let him see him, won't charge him and won't give up. Finally the detective talks to me directly, I'm like oh hell no... Ten minutes later they let him out and the detective calls ms all nice, complete turn around telling me your son needs a ride home.

Trust no one.

Toxic Reverend said...

Might this snitch protection be "by design" ?
Consider the documentary
(Note the info in the drop down menu)
CIA and Drug Running (1997)
By Mike Ruppert, an ex LA narcotics detective
Former LA Police Officer Mike Ruppert Confronts CIA Director John Deutch on Drug Trafficking

Anonymous said...

Resistance to “snitching” is a major cause in some circles. When so much emotion builds up, it become “white hot” and this resistance takes on aspects of a crusade or campaign. Sometimes those enamored of this cause seem irrational and one-sided in their advocacy.