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Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice
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From Publishers Weekly
Brown (Queens Reigns Supreme) presents the case that harsh minimum sentencing laws have led federal prosecutors to rely too much on unreliable informants and cooperators, and too little on solid investigative work; the sentences are also, he argues, feeding the anti-snitch movement. Brown correctly notes that long minimum sentences give defendants greater incentive to lie in exchange for a reduced sentence, and he relates anecdotes about deals with unsavory criminals. But these cases don't provide any analysis of whether such arrangements are really antithetical to justice and corrupt the system. For instance, in discussing the agreement struck with unrepentant Mafia turncoat Sammy Gravano, the author doesn't assess the possibility that such plea bargains with mob leaders have contributed to the decline of traditional organized crime. Further, the author's critique of pre-emptive indictments in alleged terrorist plots based on informers could have given more weight to the legitimate fears that waiting too long to stop such a plot may be too risky. The serious issues raised by the federal government's reliance on informants and cooperative witnesses merit a more thorough and nuanced analysis than Brown provides. (Dec.)
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"Brown's evidence is overwhelming" -- Legal Times, December 24th, 2007
"This chilling investigative report explores an evil that affects almost every American... Snitch is necessary reading as we go into a presidential election year." -- Penthouse, December 2007 issue
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Top customer reviews
Snitch is a mixture of real stories that read like crime fiction and jaw-dropping facts. This is one of those books I think everyone should read.
There can be no doubt that the current regime has turned US Attorneys into Grand Inquisitors. But should we worry? Why not "just trust the Government?" After all, there can be no witchhunts without false accusations and false confessions, right? This is where Ethan Brown's book makes a truly original contribution, and to my mind delivers the coup de grace to the existing federal system. The author demonstrates how that system runs on a strict and steady diet of "incentivized witnesses" - snitches in common parlance. Mandatory minimums can be a great incentive to lie and exaggerate if you are a "target" looking to roll over on your associates. But they also create perverse secondary incentives - in federal investigators and prosecutors - to skip the expensive and boring independent investigation. When all these snitches are coming to you with free eyewitness information, why bother with the hard police work? Brown persausively and devastatingly argues that the snitch has become a crutch for the Government, to the severe detriment of the rights of the accused and the integrity of the system.
This is an extremely important book because it is written from the perspective of a serious journalist for the lay public. Practitioners frequently lose the perspective to see how truly bizzare and unfair the system has become. The public, on the other hand, can't be expected to take much interest in the various subsection headings of the US Code. Ethan Brown bridges the gap for the lay public, and one can only hope this book brings some attention to this Kafkaesque nightmare.