Who's A Rat - Largest Online Database of Informants and Agents
HomeMembers LoginLatest NewsRefer A LawyerMessage BoardOnline StoreAffiliatesAbout UsContact Us
Who's A Rat - Largest Online Database of Informants and Agents Worldwide!
Site Navigation
Visit Our Store
Refer A Lawyer
Affiliates
Link To Us
Latest News
Top Secret Documents
Make A Donation
Important Case Law
Members Login
Feedback
Message Board
Legal Information
Advertise your AD, Book or Movie

Informants and Agents?Who's a Rat Message Board

WhosaRat.com
Sign up Calendar
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #1 



27 March 2013 Last updated at 00:42 GMT


The trouble with using police informants in the US
By Rob Walker BBC World Service, Florida
John Horner John Horner was asked to become an informant


Some law enforcement agencies in the US use informants in as many as 90% of their drug cases. But there are surprisingly few rules on how informants are used and a groundswell of calls for the system to be reformed.

"Snitches" are staple fare in Hollywood crime dramas, often working secretly with the police to bring down mafia godfathers or powerful drug cartels.

The reality of informants in the US criminal justice system is usually rather different.

Take the case of 46-year-old John Horner, a fast-food restaurant worker who was prescribed painkillers after he lost an eye in an accident in 2000.

Three years ago he was befriended by a man called Matt (not his real name).

"We kind of clicked right off the bat. One day he came to where I worked. We were standing there talking, and I realised he was in pain," says Horner.

"He laid it out on me, 'Look dude, I can either pay my rent or go buy my prescriptions. I can't do both.' I decided Matt was a friend. I said, 'I'll help you out.'"
Continue reading the main story        
Find out more

Rob Walker reports for Assignment on the BBC World Service
His documentary, Snitching in the USA, airs on 28 March at 09:05, 13:05, 16:05 and 20:05 GMT

Listen via BBC iPlayer
Browse the podcast documentary archive
More from BBC World Service

What Horner didn't know was that Matt was an informant working for the Osceola County Sheriff's Office in central Florida.

Over a period of several weeks, Horner provided Matt with four bottles of prescription pain pills - morphine and hydrocodone. He says he also lent him money. On the last occasion Horner handed over pills, he was arrested.

"The next thing I know I got a guy's knee in the back of my neck grinding my face into the concrete. I'm told, 'You're under arrest for trafficking.'"

According to Sheriff's Office documents, Matt paid Horner a total of $1,800 (£1,200) for the pills, in three separate payments. The money had been provided by agents who also recorded the transactions.

Horner maintains he only received part of that money from Matt, and he believed it was a repayment of cash he'd lent him earlier.

Whatever the case, under Florida law Horner now faced a minimum sentence of 25 years, if found guilty.
Continue reading the main story        
“Start Quote

The use of criminal informants is often very helpful in penetrating organised crime, but that's not how we use criminal informants in this country”

Alexandra Natapoff Loyola Law School

"My public defender told me, 'They got you dead to rights.' So I thought, 'OK, I guess there's no need taking this to trial.'"

Prosecutors offered a plea bargain of 15 years if Horner accepted a guilty plea.

"I said, 'My youngest daughter will be 25 years old when I get out. I can't do that.'"

That left him with only one option - to become an informant himself.

Under the deal he signed with prosecutors, he agreed to plead guilty. But if he helped make prosecutable cases against five other people on drug-trafficking charges - charges carrying 25-year minimum terms - his own sentence could be reduced from 25 years to 10.

That choice - put crudely, do the time or snitch - is one faced by thousands of Americans every year.

"The use of criminal informants is often very helpful in penetrating organised crime, but that's not how we use criminal informants in this country - we use them everywhere," says Alexandra Natapoff, professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

"Every case is open to negotiation."

The number of informants has exploded in the past few decades. The main reason is the tough mandatory minimum sentences introduced in the 1980s for even relatively minor drug crimes.
Continue reading the main story        
“Start Quote

I would have taken anybody down, just so I could be with my family”

John Horner

Snitching offers one of the few escape hatches.

"Every defendant facing a mandatory minimum sentence will be confronted with the reality that becoming an informant may be the only way to get out from under those very high sentences," says Natapoff.

But Florida is one state where the snitching system has attracted criticism - and where attempts to reform it have begun.

These were largely sparked by the case of Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old college graduate.

In 2008, she was caught with marijuana and ecstasy in her apartment. To escape charges that could have resulted in a five-year prison term, she agreed to become an undercover informant for the Tallahassee Police Department.

The police sent her out on a sting operation with $13,000 (£8,600) in cash to buy cocaine, ecstasy and a gun from two convicted criminals.

But despite the presence of 19 undercover officers, and a surveillance plane circling overhead, police lost track of her.

"She never had any police training, they never did a dry run of this, there was no tracking device in her car," says her father, Irv Hoffman, a mental health counsellor.

Rachel Hoffman was murdered with the gun the police had sent her to buy when the suspects found a police recording device in her purse.
Irv Hoffman at his daughter's grave Irv Hoffman at his daughter Rachel's grave

Subsequent investigations were damning, listing a whole series of police failings and incompetence.

But the botched sting operation opened a debate in Florida about the ways confidential informants were being used.
Continue reading the main story        
Reforming use of informants

California:

Corroboration required for testimony provided by informants in jail
'Chad's Law' prohibiting the use of informants under the age of 12 and restricting the use of informants under 17

Florida:

'Rachel's Law' requiring police to advise informants of their rights and to maintain certain policies with respect to the recruitment and use of informants

Illinois:

Hearings required to establish the reliability of informants, plus heightened discovery to defence lawyers of testimony from jailhouse informants

New York:

Senate Bill A3609-2011 would require corroboration of testimony from informants, heightened discovery to the defence, and additional safeguards

Texas:

Corroboration required for testimony acquired from informants in jail, and from informants charged with drug offences

Washington:

In January, Washington State Senator Adam Kline introduced a bill that would ban use of informants aged 16 or under, require police to tell informants about their obligations and potential rewards in writing, and establish mechanisms to keep track of the use of informants

Source: Professor Alexandra Natapoff's blog

"I got contacted by people from all over the state saying their kid had been put in a dangerous situation over a couple of marijuana cigarettes. They felt that confidential informants had no rights and that they were expendable," says Hoffman.

According to Natapoff, the lack of effective regulation on police use of informants is a nationwide problem.

"There are almost no rules constraining the government in its effort to persuade people to co-operate, the threats they can make to induce people to become informants, and how they are handled after that," she argues.

But many in Florida's law enforcement community are keen to stress the crucial role that informants play.

"An agent can't go up to an organisation and introduce himself and try and get in the door to be able to make a case to prosecute a trafficking organisation. It takes confidential informants to get you through that door," says Larry Zweig, director of Orlando's Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, which targets drug trafficking and organised crime in central Florida.

He estimates that his officers use confidential informants in 90% of drug cases.

"They made that life-changing decision to become part of the illegal drug trade and now that they've been charged and arrested and are looking at a conviction, this is an option that they have," he says.

Horner says the problem for him, as someone with no previous drug arrests, was finding drug dealers to inform on.

"You start running the streets. You go to the places where drug dealers go, trying to find drugs.

"I had gotten to the point at the end, I was desperate, I didn't care who went to jail. I would have taken anybody down, just so I could be with my family," says Horner.
Irv Hoffman with a photograph of his daughter Rachel Irv Hoffman is lobbying for stricter laws around the use of informants

Natapoff says this is the danger the informant system poses.

"We've created thousands of little criminal entrepreneurs running around looking for other people to snitch on," she says.

"And when they don't have information we've created a massive incentive for them to create it."
Continue reading the main story        
“Start Quote

People don't know their rights, they're coerced, bullied into doing things that are wrong”

Irv Hoffman Rachel's father

Horner failed to make cases against drug traffickers.

As a result, he was sentenced to the full 25 years in October last year and is now serving his sentence in Liberty Correctional Institution, outside Tallahassee. He will be 72 by the time he is released.

Osceola County Sheriff's Office did not respond to requests for comment on Horner's case, including his assertion that Matt unfairly set him up by befriending and borrowing money from him, in the process of trying to buy drugs.

The state attorney's office, which prosecuted Horner, told me that Florida law provides defendants with extensive access to evidence to help them decide whether to plead guilty or seek a trial, and that Horner had the benefit of a lawyer when he made the decision to plead guilty.

Since 2009, Florida has introduced more rules on the use of informants than exist in many US states.

That year, following lobbying from Rachel Hoffman's parents, the state legislature passed "Rachel's Law", which set out for the first time some minimum standards police have to meet when recruiting informants and assessing the risks they may face.
Continue reading the main story        
'Rachel's Law'

Law enforcement agencies must:

tell confidential informants (CIs) that officers can't promise reduced sentences in exchange for their work
provide special training for officers who recruit CIs
give CIs the opportunity to consult a lawyer if they request one (but not the right to a publicly funded one)
take into account a person's age and emotional state when deciding whether to recruit them as a CI, as well considering the potential risks they may face

But Rachel's father, Irv, says it's not enough. He's calling for a new law to provide greater protection for minors and those in drug treatment programmes.

"People don't know their rights, they're coerced, bullied into doing things that are wrong, and we want people to know that they have rights," he says.

There are also now some signs of a nationwide reform movement.

"We're seeing around the country legislators grappling with this question: 'How should we permit the government to cut these deals with criminal offenders?'" says Natapoff.

But Horner believes the first priority should be reforming the laws on mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.

"You bust the little man, the little man snitches on the bigger man, he faces 25 years, so he turns round and snitches on a bigger man. That's the way this law was written, for the drug cartel and the mafia," he says.

"It was written so you could go up the chain of command. But that's not what it's doing. It's all the little guys at street level that are fighting each other."

The irony is that if Horner been an experienced drug dealer, he may well now be serving a much shorter term than 25 years.

"What snitching does is it rewards the informed, so the lower you are on the totem pole of criminal activity, the less useful you are to the government," says Natapoff. "The higher up in the hierarchy you are, the more you have to offer."

Court records show that Matt, the person who informed on Horner, had a lengthy record of drug offences. At the point he informed on Horner, he was facing a minimum sentence of 15 years for trafficking. He was ultimately sentenced to just 18 months and is now free.

Rob Walker's documentary Snitching in the USA is broadcast on the BBC World Service at 09:05 GMT on 28 March. Listen back via BBC iPlayer Radio, or browse the podcast documentary archive.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21939453




The President of the United States: Reform Florida’s Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws 1st Time Offenders
Petitioning The President of the United States
The President of the United States: Reform Florida’s Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws 1st Time Offenders

Kathi Horner

Petition by

Kathi Horner

kissimmee, FL


https://www.facebook.com/ReformSentencingLaws

-Reform Florida’s Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws for Non-Violent First Time Offenders-

Thanks go out to FAMM, Families Against Minimum Mandatory http://www.famm.org for the words to help express how serious this situation is.

Our vision is a nation in which sentencing is individualized, humane, and sufficient but not greater than necessary to impose just punishment, secure public safety, and support successful rehabilitation and reentry.

The laws for non violent drug offences, especially where possession is being called trafficking and given 25 year minimum mandatory sentencing are unjust and inhumane. Minimum mandatory sentencing allows prosecutors to railroad defendants into plea bargains with little to know effort on proving the quality of the case against them. Due to the possibility of serving an incomprehensibly lengthy prison term, a defendant without the means to afford private counsel to pose a costly defense must accept whatever offers are made to them, whether guilty or innocent. Judges should have the discretion to weigh the merits of each case and defendant independently and the sole right to impose a just sentence.

In the past few years Florida’s prison population has skyrocketed, and now stands above 100,000, a 20 percent increase from just five years ago and the third highest in the country. The costs associated with our prison population have exploded as well. In 1987, for every dollar spent on higher education, Florida spent 34 cents on corrections; today, it spends 66 cents. A significant portion of the increase in Florida’s prison population can be attributed to Florida’s harsh mandatory minimum sentences. For instance, Florida law defines drug “trafficking” as possession of a given weight of illegal drugs, and possession of 28 grams of illegal painkillers triggers a mandatory minimum 25-year prison sentence; no intent to distribute is required to trigger the mandatory minimum sentence. For perspective, the same crime in Texas carries a two-year sentence. While no doubt well-intentioned, Florida’s laws leave no room for a judge to determine whether a particular defendant deserves the sentence prescribed by the statute. This often leads to unjust outcomes.

Consider the case of my husband, John Horner. My husband was just sentenced to a 25 year min/man on Oct 12, 2012. HE IS A FIRST TIME NON-VIOLENT OFFENDER! He is 46 years old and has 3 children to provide for. Now the state will be providing for him in prison AND for his family to survive. I guarantee he wouldn't give another person an aspirin now, do you really think he will ever give someone a pain pill again?? You can't tell me that it will take 25 years for him to be "rehabilitated". He didn't know that helping someone out who had Crone's Disease would cost him his own life.

Obviously something is very wrong with Florida’s criminal justice system. We can no longer afford to keep nonviolent, first-time offenders in prison for decades. The current system is expensive, inefficient and in desperate need of reform. We need better, more creative solutions to our criminal justice problems, not more of the same. As a start, I respectfully urge you to support reform of Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
To:
The President of the United States
The U.S. Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives
florida legislators
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Florida Legislators.

----------------
-Reform Florida’s Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Laws for Non-Violent First Time Offenders-

Our vision is a nation in which sentencing is individualized, humane, and sufficient but not greater than necessary to impose just punishment, secure public safety, and support successful rehabilitation and reentry.

The laws for non violent drug offences, especially where possession is being called trafficking and given 25 year minimum mandatory sentencing are unjust and inhumane. Minimum mandatory sentencing allows prosecutors to railroad defendants into plea bargains with little to know effort on proving the quality of the case against them. Due to the possibility of serving an incomprehensibly lengthy prison term, a defendant without the means to afford private counsel to pose a costly defense must accept whatever offers are made to them, whether guilty or innocent. Judges should have the discretion to weigh the merits of each case and defendant independently and the sole right to impose a just sentence.

In the past few years Florida’s prison population has skyrocketed, and now stands above 100,000, a 20 percent increase from just five years ago and the third highest in the country. The costs associated with our prison population have exploded as well. In 1987, for every dollar spent on higher education, Florida spent 34 cents on corrections; today, it spends 66 cents. A significant portion of the increase in Florida’s prison population can be attributed to Florida’s harsh mandatory minimum sentences. For instance, Florida law defines drug “trafficking” as possession of a given weight of illegal drugs, and possession of 28 grams of illegal painkillers triggers a mandatory minimum 25-year prison sentence; no intent to distribute is required to trigger the mandatory minimum sentence. For perspective, the same crime in Texas carries a two-year sentence. While no doubt well-intentioned, Florida’s laws leave no room for a judge to determine whether a particular defendant deserves the sentence prescribed by the statute. This often leads to unjust outcomes.

Obviously something is very wrong with Florida’s criminal justice system. We can no longer afford to keep nonviolent, first-time offenders in prison for decades. The current system is expensive, inefficient and in desperate need of reform. We need better, more creative solutions to our criminal justice problems, not more of the same. As a start, I respectfully urge you to support reform of Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
----------------

Sincerely,

Sincerely,
[Your name]
Less
Recent signatures




https://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-reform-florida-s-minimum-mandatory-sentencing-laws-1st-time-offenders

__________________
Test your connection for leaks:
http://ip-check.info/?lang=en

Use TAILS
https://tails.boum.org/

How to boot from USB and other great stuff:
http://www.rmprepusb.com/

Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #2 
A Heartbreaking Drug Sentence of Staggering Idiocy
A first-time narcotics offender, father to three, sold pain pills to a friend. His punishment: 25 years in prison. It's just the latest evidence that U.S. drug policy is madness.
Conor Friedersdorf Apr 3 2013, 8:00 AM ET
More
pain pills full2.jpg.jpg
BeFutureproof/Flickr

John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food restaurant worker, lost his eye in a 2000 accident and was prescribed painkillers. Years later, he met and befriended a guy who seemed to be in pain himself. His new friend asked if he could buy some of Horner's pain pills. Naturally, the friend was a police informant. Prosecutors in Central Florida say Horner was ultimately paid $1,800 for pills. "My public defender told me, 'They got you dead to rights,'" he said. "So I thought, 'OK, I guess there's no need taking this to trial.'" His story is recounted in a BBC News Service story about the problematic use of informants by U.S. law-enforcement agencies.

It's an important subject and the article tackles it well.

But let's focus here on the anecdote about Horner, because it gets at the utter madness of the War on Drugs. For the sake of argument, let's presume he's guilty of selling $1,800 of pain pills prescribed to him for an injury. Forget that he was arguably entrapped. Just look at the crime in isolation.

What sort of punishment should it carry?

You've got a 46-year-old employed father caught selling four bottles of prescription pain pills. "Under Florida law Horner now faced a minimum sentence of 25 years, if found guilty," the BBC reports.

Twenty-five years minimum!

It costs Florida roughly $19,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year. So I ask you, dear reader, is keeping non-violent first-time drug offender John Horner locked behind bars in a jumpsuit really the best use of $475,000? For the same price, you could pay a year's tuition for 75 students at Florida State University. You could pay the salaries of seven West Palm Beach police officers for a year. Is it accurate to call a system that demands the 25-year prison term mad?

Well. Prosecutors offered to shave years off his sentence if he became an informant himself and successfully helped send five others to prison on 25 year terms. He tried. But "Horner failed to make cases against drug traffickers," says the BBC. "As a result, he was sentenced to the full 25 years in October last year and is now serving his sentence in Liberty Correctional Institution."

Naturally.

"He will be 72 by the time he is released."

Meet his kids:

john horner's kids.png
How about a pardon, Governor Rick Scott?

Oh.

Update: I've unearthed a fact that goes unmentioned in other coverage of Horner's case -- while it is true that he was a first time narcotics offender, he was convicted many years earlier (at age 18) of statutory rape. He served one to two years, and while I don't have more information than that at the moment, his wife says, via an intermediary, that it was a case of consensual sex among teens. While inconvenient for his already slim chances at being pardoned and worth adding to the BBC piece, it should be noted that it neither bears on mandatory minimums in Florida ("there's no indication that any priors were relevant at all in the sentencing phase of this case," says Gregory Newburn of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group), nor does it change the fact that spending $475,000 to keep him behind bars is a truly mad way to allocate public funds.


http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/a-heartbreaking-drug-sentence-of-staggering-idiocy/274607/

__________________
Test your connection for leaks:
http://ip-check.info/?lang=en

Use TAILS
https://tails.boum.org/

How to boot from USB and other great stuff:
http://www.rmprepusb.com/

Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #3 



http://www.takepart.com/SNITCH

SNITCH | Lock it Down America!
takeparttakepart·637 videos
28,435
86,565
Like 153 Dislike 9

Published on Feb 8, 2013

SNITCH explores the consequences of Federal Mandatory Minimum drug laws and the use of confidential drug informants. Becoming one of the 2.2 million people behind bars is easier than you think.

Go to http://www.TakePart.com/SNITCH to learn more and take action by signing the petition.

SNITCH | Lock it Down America!

__________________
Test your connection for leaks:
http://ip-check.info/?lang=en

Use TAILS
https://tails.boum.org/

How to boot from USB and other great stuff:
http://www.rmprepusb.com/

Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.

? ?
Copyright ? 2001-2004 Who?s A Rat. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.
?