use of snitches and related gathering evidences


Use of Snitches
A related method to gather evidence, involves the use of informants—often “low-level”
offenders—to obtain incriminating information against other suspects, in exchange for
legal leniency or other benefits to the informants. The informant may be incorporated
into undercover operations, where he can perform deceptive functions similar to those
of the undercover officers; may attempt to elicit incriminating information from suspects
while both are in custody; or may simply provide information already (allegedly) known. 

The use of such informants (colloquially known as snitches) has been the source of
controversy among legal circles and the general public. Proponents of the technique
claim that offering leniency to low-level offenders is a justifiable moral compromise
affording the legal system effective means of apprehending higher-level criminals.
Conversely, opponents of snitching deals argue that such deals represent an unjustified
compromise of law enforcement ethics and justice principles, with undesirable effects
outweighing potential benefits. 

They note that the clandestine and unregulated nature of
snitching deals can lead to instances of unanticipated victimization of innocents,
corruption, and other ethically questionable outcomes. Incentives offered to snitches
can induce them to provide false information, purposely incriminating innocent persons
solely to reap the benefits of the deal. Moreover, leniency offered in such deals can
encourage criminal activity by allowing informants to escape repercussions of their own
criminal activities.
Interrogation Practices
Interrogation strategies, as practiced by American law enforcement, are arguably
second only to undercover operations in deceptiveness. Although interrogators do not
deceive at the level of their identity as law enforcement officers, they do so with virtually
every other representation made during interrogation. The interrogator feigns good will
toward the suspect, indicating that s/he thinks the suspect is a good guy caught in a bad
situation, and stating that s/he would like to help the suspect get the best outcomes.
S/he promotes the illusion that s/he has the authority to affect whether and what
charges are filed against the suspect (which is actually the province of prosecutors).
S/he misrepresents the purpose of the interrogation as an opportunity for the suspect to
help himself by

 “explaining” his side of the story, rather than as an attempt to secure the
suspect’s conviction. S/he depicts often scant evidence of guilt as overwhelming, often
claiming to have evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, failed polygraph tests, or
eyewitnesses that doesn’t actually exist. And, the overriding deceptive message of the
interrogation is that confession is actually in suspects’ best long term legal interests,
whereas refusal to confess will work against them. While such strategies are effective in
eliciting true confessions, they have also been implicated in the elicitation of a growing
Encyclopedia of Lying and Deception
number of documented false confessions to serious crimes such as murder, rape, and
Modern interrogation strategies were developed not only to deceive the suspects
and induce them to confess against self-interest, 

but also to mislead the courts. The
importance of full confessions in securing convictions, along with the risk of false
confessions raised by coercive interrogation practices, have led to the establishment of
laws and regulations in the United States to protect suspects from use of physical
violence, overt threats, and false promises of leniency to elicit incriminating admissions.
Interrogators acknowledge that suspects are unlikely to confess unless they believe it is
in their own best interests. Since explicit threats and promises regarding the
consequences of confession are explicitly forbidden, interrogators have adopted
strategies for conveying the incentives for confession without explicitly stating them. The
success of these strategies in deceiving the courts is reflected in widespread refusal of
the courts to recognize the clarity with which the strategies do convey threats and
promises, along with widespread refusal to suppress confessions elicited through their
use: and in interrogators’ simultaneous success in leading suspect to confess by
convincing them it is in their best interest to do so.

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