Justice System Overrelies on Informants, Charges NJ ACLU Study

A three-year American Civil Liberties Union investigation in New Jersey found disjointed, confusing, and, in some cases, nonexistent policies on how law enforcement agencies in the state use confidential informants, reports the Associated Press. The report recommends that all officers who deal with confidential informants be trained in a single, uniform policy.

The ACLU said that has led to an overreliance on informants and diminished public faith in the justice system, as well as dismissals of tainted criminal cases. Of 93 municipal police departments surveyed, 21 said they had no policy regarding informants. Many county prosecutors and police departments said they go by the state attorney general’s policy, but cited different manuals as that policy’s source. The study interviewed 59 current and former police officers. Four in 10 said they were unaware of the statewide policy, while 65 percent said they didn’t know what was in it. Interviews found instances where unreliable or underage informants were improperly used, and where criminals charged with serious drug charges were used to catch “little fish” – the opposite of the way the system is supposed to work.

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