Friday, October 08, 2004

Bad CIs Creating Crime

One of my biggest beefs is the use of drug enforcement strategies that create new crime instead of investigating current ones. A Tennessee drug task force roped in a Florida woman on money laundering charges recently, but it turned out she was uninvolved, and a confidential informant (who had a long criminal record) had manufactured the allegedly criminal situation.

This is very common, especially for drug task forces funded by the federal Byrne grant program. In
Hearne, Texas ACLU is suing because a confidential informant set up innocent people and attempted to manufacture crimes where none existed. In response, the 2001 (77th) Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2351 requiring corroboration for testimony by confidential informants in undercover drug stings. To my knowledge, no other state has enforced that restriction. The requirement for corroborating evidence, though, is as old as the concept of justice itself -- in Mosaic law in the Bible, corroboration was mandated for the equivalent of criminal convictions, and both Jesus and the Apostle Paul confirmed the necessity for corroboration in the New Testament.

For more information about drug task forces, see Grits' full coverage

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