Here’s an article I wrote for Prison Legal News entitled “Secret Justice: Criminal Informants and America’s Underground Legal System.” The article is a brief overview of many of the themes I cover in the book–here’s the first paragraph:
Although it is almost invisible to the public, the use of criminal informants is everywhere in the U.S. justice system. From street corners to jails to courthouses to prisons, every year the government negotiates thousands of deals with criminal offenders in which suspects can avoid arrest or punishment in exchange for information. These deals typically take place off-the-record, subject to few rules and little oversight. While criminal informants-sometimes referred to as “snitches”-can be important investigative tools, using them has some serious costs: informants often continue to commit crimes, while the information they provide is infamously unreliable. Taken together, these facts make snitching an important and problematic aspect of the way America does justice.