Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice, Second Edition (Paperback)
Reveals the secretive, inaccurate, and often violent ways that the American criminal system really worksCurtis Flowers spent twenty-three years on death row for a murder he did not commit. Atlanta police killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during a misguided raid on her home. Rachel Hoffman was murdered at age twenty-three while working for Florida police. Such tragedies are consequences of snitching. Although it is nearly invisible to the public, the massive informant market shapes the American legal system in risky and sometimes shocking ways. Police rely on criminal suspects to obtain warrants, to perform surveillance, and to justify arrests. Prosecutors negotiate with defendants for information and cooperation, offering to drop charges or lighten sentences in exchange. In this book, Alexandra Natapoff provides a comprehensive analysis of this powerful and problematic practice. She shows how informant deals generate unreliable evidence, allow serious criminals to escape punishment, endanger the innocent, and exacerbate distrust between police and poor communities of color. First published over ten years ago, Snitching has become known as the "informant bible," a leading text for advocates, attorneys, journalists, and scholars. This influential book has helped free the innocent, it has fueled reform at the state and federal level, and it is frequently featured in high-profile media coverage of snitching debacles. This updated edition contains a decade worth of new stories, new data, new legislation and legal developments, much of it generated by the book itself and by Natapoff's own work. In clear, accessible language, the book exposes the social destruction that snitching can cause in heavily-policed Black neighborhoods, and how using criminal informants renders our entire penal process more secretive and less fair. By delving into the secretive world of criminal informants, Snitching reveals deep and often disturbing truths about the way American justice really works.
Alexandra Natapoff is the Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. She is the author of Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal and editor of The New Criminal Justice Thinking.