Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The trouble with using police informants in the US
Whatever the case, under Florida law Horner now faced a minimum sentence of 25 years, if found guilty.

"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.

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.

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.
I believe there's a term for this.

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