Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice

Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice

by Ethan Brown
     
 

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Our criminal justice system favors defendants who know how to play the "5K game": criminals who are so savvy about the cooperation process that they repeatedly commit serious crimes knowing they can be sent back to the streets if they simply cooperate with prosecutors. In Snitch, investigative reporter Ethan Brown shows through a compelling series of case

Overview

Our criminal justice system favors defendants who know how to play the "5K game": criminals who are so savvy about the cooperation process that they repeatedly commit serious crimes knowing they can be sent back to the streets if they simply cooperate with prosecutors. In Snitch, investigative reporter Ethan Brown shows through a compelling series of case profiles how the sentencing guidelines for drug-related offenses, along with the 5K1.1 section, have unintentionally created a "cottage industry of cooperators," and led to fabricated evidence. The result is wrongful convictions and appallingly gruesome crimes, including the grisly murder of the Harvey family in Richmond, Virginia and the well-publicized murder of Imette St. Guillen in New York City.

This cooperator-coddling criminal justice system has ignited the infamous "Stop Snitching" movement in urban neighborhoods, deplored by everyone from the NAACP to the mayor of Boston for encouraging witness intimidation. But as Snitch shows, the movement is actually a cry against the harsh sentencing guidelines for drug-related crimes, and a call for hustlers to return to "old school" street values, like: do the crime, do the time. Combining deep knowledge of the criminal justice system with frontline true crime reporting, Snitch is a shocking and brutally troubling report about the state of American justice when it's no longer clear who are the good guys and who are the bad.

Editorial Reviews

Legal Times
Brown's evidence is overwhelming
Penthouse
This chilling investigative report explores an evil that affects almost every American... Snitch is necessary reading as we go into a presidential election year.

Kirkus Reviews
Trading reduced sentences to drug criminals for information has utterly corrupted the American justice system, argues Brown (Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler, 2005). The author isn't the first to make a book-length argument that America's criminal justice structure is fatally flawed when it comes to drug crimes, and he won't be the last. His focus, however, is quite fresh: The combination of tough, federally mandated sentences and overeager prosecutors willing to make a case simply on the testimony of an unreliable informant or two, he writes, "has transformed drug enforcement into a game of tag in which small-time dealers constantly turn on one another." Given the heavy punishments meted out for even small drug offenses, it's not surprising that prosecutors can draw on a large pool of potential snitches happy to provide any information-true or not-to get off the hook. Brown uses a number of poorly handled cases to demonstrate that police departments around the country will use the word of a snitch, any snitch, to lock up their targets. The snitches often get revolving-door treatment for their own offenses, not to mention cash stipends and even a strange sense of camaraderie with the cops. As a result, investigative work and evidence-gathering fall by the wayside, and some informants are even freed to commit more heinous crimes as a reward for their self-serving lies. Unfortunately, Brown's tone is often tepid when it should be angry. He moves from one case to the next with little sense of proportion, going into lengthy and frequently irrelevant detail that distracts from his main point. Appalled by the shocking ineptitude and outright duplicityof law-enforcement personnel that his research uncovered, Brown seems to feel honor-bound to report every single instance, at the cost of disastrously diluting what could have been a stunning book. A powerful case poorly argued. Agent: Jud Laghi/LJK Literary Management

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586484927
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
11/26/2007
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Ethan Brown writes about pop music, crime, and drug policy for publications such as Wired, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and GQ. He is the author of Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent and the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler. He lives in New York.

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