Innocence Blog

New Study Reveals Incentive to Snitch

Posted: December 14, 2012 4:30 pm


A USA Today examination of hundreds of thousands of federal court cases from the past five years revealed that nearly 50,000 federal convicts received reduced sentences in exchange for providing information to government officials, what’s commonly known as snitching.
 
The study reveals shocking details about informants paying outside sources for information pertaining to criminals serving time that can be passed on to law enforcement, according to USA Today.
 
Although pay-to-snitch schemes are generally illegal, willing snitches have paid tens of thousands of dollars and even $250,000 in one case, for information that could be used to gain freedom. Marcus Watkins, a known snitch and convicted armed robber in Atlanta, has been providing federal agents with information for a decade.
 
Watkins developed a business with associates on the outside and offered to sell collected information about drug dealers and other criminals to prisoners desperate for reduced sentences. And since most people charged with federal crimes face long sentences, Watkins had many customers.
 
According to USA Today’s examination of the federal data, every year for the past decade, 11% or more of the people convicted of a federal crime got a shorter sentence because they provided "substantial assistance" to investigators.
 
Read the full article.
 
View the map of federal convictions from 2006 to 2011 where sentences were reduced in exchange for substantial assistance.