17 December 2012

Snitching Pays

Snitching has become so commonplace that in the past five years at least 48,895 federal convicts — one of every eight — had their prison sentences reduced in exchange for helping government investigators. . . . The deals can chop a decade or more off of their sentences.
From here.

The larger story recounts a scheme in Atlanta wherein criminal defendants paid people outside the prison to provide snitch information to reduce their sentences when they didn't actually have any information of their own to provide to prosecutors.

One of the particular concerns when it comes to sentencing relief based on snitching is that low level drug dealers often end up serving longer sentences than high level drug dealers, because the high level drug dealers have more information to provide prosecutors than low level drug dealers do.

One suspects that snitching is somewhat less important in the state and local criminal justice process because a far smaller share of state and local than federal criminal prosecutions involve crimes that involved organized group activity to any great extent.  Also, most state and local sentencing systems do not rely on a system like the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines of the federal system that particularly flag leniency in exchange for cooperation with the government. 

On the other hand, some estimates put the percentage of Colorado prison inmates who are gang members at close to 50%, so perhaps I am mistaken.

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