Snitching on Snitches Has Troubling Root

Snitching on Snitches Has Troubling Root
Posted by CN Staff on June 05, 2007 at 20:06:07 PT
By Clarence Page 
Source: Chicago Tribune 
Washington, DC -- Can snitching be ethical? The question has troubled me ever since I was a little-bitty boy. I ratted out my neighborhood friend Andrew. He had brazenly filched a couple of cookies out of his mother's cookie jar after she told us not to. When I snitched, Drew was ticked off at me. But his mom let him off the hook. She even gave each of us a cookie. Years later, Andrew would go to prison on much more serious charges. I would pursue a career in journalism. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
My childhood friend came to mind when I heard about a Web site called, which is devoted to snitching on snitchers. It posts names, photos and court documents of witnesses who cooperate with the government. The Internet, that great megaphone for the masses, now targets tattletales too. was launched by a guy named Sean Bucci in 2004, apparently out of personal rage. He had been indicted in federal court in Boston on marijuana charges based on information from an informant. At first the site was free, but it caught on. Now it charges $7.99 for a week of access or $89.99 for a lifetime membership and a free "Stop snitching" T-shirt. In case you haven't heard, "Stop snitching" T-shirts, DVDs, rap videos and Internet sites are all signs that the criminal underworld's values have gone mainstream, transmitted like a lethal virus through the culture and multibillion-dollar commerce of hip-hop. As the rap star Cameron "Cam'ron" Giles said in a recent CBS "60 Minutes" interview, cooperating with police violates his "code of ethics" and damages his street credibility. "It would definitely hurt my business," he said. As a result, neither he nor his entourage of potential witnesses have cooperated with police investigating Giles' 2005 shooting in Washington by a presumed carjacker. The site claims to have identified more than 4,000 informers and 400 undercover agents, many from documents obtained from court files available on the Internet. Of course, police and prosecutors would like to shut down the site, if that pesky 1st Amendment weren't in the way. The Web site claims that it does not condone violence. Yet, its home page prominently displays mug shots and bios of its "rats of the week" in a way that all but paints targets on their faces. According to a recent article about the site by New York Times reporter Adam Liptak, at least one witness in Philadelphia has been relocated and the FBI was asked to investigate after material from the Web site was mailed to neighbors and posted on cars and utility poles in his neighborhood. The "Stop snitching" culture is bad, but it has grown in reaction to two other malignant problems. One is the false testimony offered up by too many witnesses looking for lighter sentences and used much too eagerly by unquestioning prosecutors. The other is a persistent pattern of bad relations between police and civilians in certain neighborhoods. Arrests and prosecutions too often have been tainted by witnesses lured or coerced into lying in return for lighter sentences. As stated in "The Snitch Culture," a 2005 report by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, "Snitch testimony is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in capital cases." An American Bar Association report, "Achieving Justice: Freeing the Innocent, Convicting the Guilty," last year similarly recommended requiring corroboration of jailhouse informant testimony with other evidence or testimony to avoid wrongful convictions. Even in the small-town neighborhood where I grew up, residents would refuse to cooperate with police if they felt the police could not be trusted. Urban crime declined sharply in the 1990s after cities and towns got a lot smarter about "community policing" programs to improve police-civilian cooperation. What happens next at -- -- depends on how smart police, judges and prosecutors are going to be about the risks it poses. The Web site's operators could be charged with witness tampering or aiding and abetting criminals, but it would be hard to make the charges stick. The information on is drawn from court documents posted elsewhere on the Internet. The information helps other defendants receive fair trials. Judges are better off deciding in each case whether witnesses' identities can safely be posted anywhere on the Internet or whether they should be sealed legally from public access. There may be hope for hip-hop too.Giles issued a national apology after saying in his "60 Minutes" interview that he would not even snitch on a serial killer next door. Even the world of gangster rap reeled at that one.Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Clarence Page Published: June 6, 2007Copyright: 2007 Chicago Tribune CompanyContact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: Justice Archives
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on June 06, 2007 at 08:24:48 PT
It's only going to get worse
The problem here, never mentioned in mainstream media of course, is that consensual "crimes" are mixed in with violent and predatory crimes. And it's gotten so bad that over 50% of law enforcement is dedicated to consensual crimes. More arrests are made for cannabis than for all other violent crimes combined. The result is that, in many big cities, there is almost no enforcement of murder at all! The majority of murders are going unsolved.Law enforcement has become corrupt, just like it did during alcohol prohbition. Look at the prostitution laws. The masses are told that we need them to keep young girls from being exploited. The police then use the laws to get free sex whenever they want, from girls that are underage.  I doubt that police in Holland are able to get free sex from prostitutes, and I also doubt that there any girls under 18 engaged in prostitution in Holland.
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