California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill that aims to prevent wrongful convictions by barring judges and juries from relying solely on the testimony of jailhouse informants, reports the Los Angeles Times. The new law requires prosecutors to present forensic evidence or uncompromised testimony that corroborates information provided by in-custody witnesses who claim to have been told or overheard incriminating statements by the defendant.
Dozens of Los Angeles County criminal convictions based on the testimony of jailhouse snitches have been overturned over the last quarter-century because appeals courts found the key witnesses to be unreliable or self-serving. The district attorney's office years ago curtailed reliance on such sources. The bill signed by Brown now makes those safeguards statewide policy. The state association of prosecutors had opposed the change in the law.