snitching = when police or prosecutors offer a deal to criminal suspects in exchange for information or cooperation

Criminal informants are an influential part of the American criminal process.  Every year, the government makes thousands of deals with criminal offenders in exchange for information.  That information affects every aspect of the system, from investigations to arrests, prosecutions, and sentencing.  These deals also result in leniency or even freedom for thousands of informant-offenders.  Yet these important decisions are largely informal, unregulated, and secretive.

This website provides educational information about all aspects of criminal informant use, law, and policy.  It is for litigators, legislators, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, and the general public.  It does a number of things:

Criminal informant policies have costs as well as benefits.   On the one hand, informants can be powerful investigative tools against organized crime, gangs, corporate fraud, and corrupt political practices.  But many informants get away with serious crimes while they are cooperating with the goverment, while numerous innocent people have been convicted based on unreliable information from informants.   Sometimes vulnerable people are unfairly pressured into becoming informants, with devastating consequences for them and their families. Finally, in some high-crime neighborhoods criminal snitching can be so pervasive that it affects the safety of innocent residents.   All too often, the public does not know the true extent of these costs.

In 2009, I started SNITCHING BLOG.  Since then, I have heard from many parents, lawyers, government officials, reporters and advocates that the blog and its resources have been helpful to them. This site expands on the blog with the same goal: to promote better understanding of this important and problematic feature of our criminal justice process.

Professor Alexandra Natapoff

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles