“Anti-Snitch” Bill in North Carolina ‘Dies’ in the Legislature

Making deals with snitches — just one of the more loathsome practices of prosecutors, and it happens all the time. Here’s how it works. A prison inmate (snitch) who has contact in prison with the defendant in a case comes forward, and claims that the defendant confessed to him in prison, or that the defendant bragged about the crime, or said things that implicated himself in the crime. In “exchange” for his testimony against the defendant the snitch is granted favorable treatment by the prosecutor – reduced sentence, reduced charges, early release, etc. Snitches can also be people who are not in prison, and get paid money for their testimony, or have pending charges dropped. Snitch testimony is often totally fabricated, and the snitch is lying just to get the deal from the prosecutor or to get the money. Snitches will read newspaper reports of crimes to learn just enough detail about a crime to give some credibility to their fake claims about what the defendant said to them. And when prosecutors put snitches on the witness stand, you can’t tell me they don’t know the testimony is bogus. However, it’s not uncommon for snitch testimony to be the deciding factor in a conviction.

North Carolina has been among the leaders in addressing the problem of wrongful convictions, including establishing the first state innocence commission, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, in 2002. And recently in North Carolina, the issue of perjurious snitch testimony has bubbled to the surface. A bill under consideration in the legislature would bar a conviction based solely upon incentivized (snitch) testimony. However, that bill has now essentially died in the legislature after intense lobbying from the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.

This from the publication INDY Week: “Supporters called it one of the strongest bills in the country that would protect criminal defendants from lying jailhouse snitches. But now, the I. Beverly Lake, Jr., Fair Trial Act is on life support, blocked by N.C. House leadership after pressure from the state’s Conference of District Attorneys.”

See the INDY Week story here.

Given North Carolina’s heretofore forward thinking on wrongful convictions, I am dismayed by this; but, it’s just yet another obstacle to overcome – so upward and onward. The fact that this bill has even been under consideration is a source of encouragement, because it means that some legislators actually understand some of the problems.


5 responses to ““Anti-Snitch” Bill in North Carolina ‘Dies’ in the Legislature

  1. At this time when both right and left politicos have acknowledged the United States criminal justice system is broken, one would expect the DA’s/prosecutors to “right the wrongs” and start with ending the “snitch” program.

    As “ministers-of-justice”, it is their job to seek fair justice. The prosecutor-lobbyists’ power over the lawmakers is cause for concern and a public outcry. They had an opportunity to make an important contribution towards important reform, but chose to “thumb their noses” at the people/taxpayers in their “power grab”.

    With the “snitch” program intact, once again, this confirms they want to maintain their “entrenched culture of convictions-at-all-costs”, using perjury = malfeasance. Self-destructing America, our freedom and liberty with no accountability?

    How many innocent lives and families have been destroyed over the decades? And at what cost to the taxpayers wasting billions in a bloated mass industrial prison complex making the U.S. #1 Jailer in the world?

    12,000,000 per year entering America’s jails and criminal justice system. Unsustainable. Soon 50% will be have the other 50% under their “control”. And this is America, “land of the free” our soldiers have fought and died for? The hypocrisy is stunning!

    Thank you Phil Locke for shining the much-needed harsh spotlight!

  2. Quote from http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/06260901bd.pdf

    SHEPARD, Chief Justice, dissenting.
    The system of justice seeks to provide a fair trial, but there is no entitlement to a perfect trial. I think the two reversals entered by the appellate courts in this case have unnecessarily sanitized the evidence against David Camm.

    Amidst the mountainous evidence in this trial was Camm’s declaration while in prison that his wife intended to leave him because of problems in their marriage and that he planned the
    killings on a night when the basketball game might provide an alibi.

    End Quote

    David Camm was subsequently acquitted by a jury.

  3. Check out William L Anderson’s blog. http://williamlanderson.blogspot.com/

    excerpt: “Small Government” that Spies on Citizens and Imprisons Millions

    Republicans are fond of claiming they favor “small government” while Democrats demand “big government.” They are half-correct; Democrats really do believe that we need a government that controls every aspect of our lives — except the decision of whether or not to have an abortion, and government should make all abortions free and encourage them.

    Yet, how do Republicans favor “big government”? Let me count the ways: …”

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