An investigation into how the use of informants has become a lynchpin in the prosecutorial strategy in the war on drugs.
Pro/Con: Snitches & Mandatory Minimums
An Interview With the Producer
A Primer on Drug Laws & Snitching
Inside the Mind of a Snitch
The Case That Challeneged Leniency Deals
Join the Discussion
photos of clarence aaron & joey settembrino
Two Cases Close Up:  They were minor offenders, but are serving harsh prison sentences, including life without parole.  All on the word of snitched who got big sentence reductions
navigation, see below for text

"Snitch" investigates how a fundamental shift in the country's anti-drug laws -- including federal mandatory minimum sentencing and conspiracy provisions--has bred a culture of snitching that is in many cases rewarding the guiltiest and punishing the less guilty.

Funding for the FRONTLINE program "Snitch" is provided by public television viewers, with additional funding for investigative reporting provided by The Florence and John Schumann Foundation.

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In the last five years, nearly a third of defendants in federal drug trafficking cases have had their sentences reduced because they informed on other peoplethey snitched. With the prospect of mandatory life sentences facing many charged with drug crimes, the only option to escape their fate is to inform on someone else, resulting in unsettling cases in which minor offenders are serving harsh prison sentences. FRONTLINE takes a critical look at the federal governments disturbing use of informants in drug prosecutions and the effect it has had on individuals rights and the U.S. judicial system.

The web site for "Snitch" delves deeper into the story offering: a report on a recent federal court ruling challenging government leniency deals; an interview with producer Ofra Bikel; experts' views on the pros and cons of using informers; a closer look at cases profiled in the program; more of the interviews with judges and prosecutors; and, a smart quiz on drug laws and prosecutions.

published jan. 1999