Throwaway Confidential Informants
The article, “The Throwaways”, by Sarah Stillman, is an account of confidential informants being used as inexpensive and off the record pawns in the drug war. A confidential informant is a person who has been caught for a crime, usually illegal narcotics, and has been offered to have their slate wiped clean or their punishment reduced if they help bust a higher up criminal. The police treat these informants as if they are nothing else but a tool to catch the criminals at the top of the food chain. The police do not stop to think that the informants are often productive people in society, even if they decide to partake drug use. I have a close friend who was asked to be an informant after being busted with just a small amount of marijuana. I strongly advised against this for his safety, and my friend instead had to spend nearly four thousand dollars on a lawyer. It is unjust and immoral for police officers to use these people with no formal guarantee that their charges will be dropped, as well as putting them in extremely dangerous situations. “The Throwaways” is an article about four young confidential informants who had their lives cut short because they decided to cooperate with law enforcement and help bust drug dealers. Every single informant’s fate led 6 feet underground. Rachel Hoffman was a twenty-three year old girl who had plans to go to culinary school and open a new type of rehabilitation center. Rachel was found dead the next day fifty miles from where the cops were supposed to be tracking her every move. Lebron Gaither testified against a man in court and was then ordered to try and buy narcotics from the same man he had just testified against; he was tortured, shot with a handgun as well as a shotgun, ran over by a car, and then dragged by a chain into the woods. Shelly Hilliard was caught with a half ounce of pot, threatened with prison, and agreed to be an informant. Hilliard’s body was found on fire beneath a mattress on a service road. The last informant in the article, Jeremy Mclean, agreed to be an informant because he did not want to bring disgrace to his family name. The police continued to make Jeremy bust drug dealers until he helped lead to the arrest of a heroin trafficker. The officers said that the heroin trafficker, William Vance Reagan, Jr., was harmless and not to worry. Reagan shot Jeremy in the back of the neck 3 times and once in the face. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole (Stillman). Narcotics officers use informants as a disposable tool to get to people, or places that they cannot get to alone. According to the article, over eighty percent of drug busts involve informants (Stillman 38). There are usually no contracts and the informants have to trust that the officers will keep their word. I think that this is insane and it endangers the lives of mostly young people who have their entire life ahead of them. At the time, the opportunity to be a confidential informant and having all of their charges dropped seems like a better option than time in jail or huge fines. It is too dangerous to bust a drug dealer. The word would get out that they got arrested, and the informant would be the number one suspect. I have a close friend who was smoking pot at a Wiz Khalifa concert in his car before going in, because he had been told that there were cops inside and that the security guards searched you before you went in. While smoking he saw two men walking up by his car, one a big strong white man and the other a smaller African American man. As they walked past his car, he took a sip of his drink because his throat burned slightly from the smoke. The two men saw him do this, pointed at his car and walked off. My friend felt that something was wrong because of the way they pointed at the car, so he got out to go into the concert. The next thing he knew, both of those men had chased him down and were interrogating him about what he had been drinking....
Cited: Stillman, Sarah. "Re: The Throwaways." New Yorker. N.p., 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 27
Sept. 2012. .
"Marijuana-arrests.com." Marijuana-arrests.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.
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