Critic: Clandestine “Snitching” System Undermines Justice


In the second in a series on informants, National Public Radio quotes Loyola Law School Prof. Alexandra Natapoff, author of the new book Snitching, as saying that the public has no clue about the thousands of informants now on the government payroll. “It’s a very clandestine, secretive and unregulated arena that yet influences the outcome of millions of cases and investigations,” she says. “It shapes the way we lawyer, it shapes the way we judge, and it shapes what we call fair and good. And yet, we don’t see any evidence of it pop up on the public record.”

Natapoff says the use of informants is rising, especially in the federal war on drugs. She worries that far too often, police and prosecutors hire informants who continue committing the worst kinds of crimes. She says these deals with the devil compromise the judicial system and betray its integrity. “There is no one in the system who knows how many snitches there are,” she says. “Nobody knows how many crimes they commit. No one knows how many they solve. There are no mechanisms for keeping track of this massive public policy that, in effect, makes decisions for us every day.”

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