News 07.26.11

Jailhouse Informant Bill Could Prevent Wrongful Convictions

In California, a bill has been introduced that would prevent juries from convicting defendants based solely on jailhouse or informant testimony, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

In more than 15% of wrongful conviction cases overturned by DNA testing, an informant or jailhouse snitch testified against the defendant. Often, statements from people with incentives to testify – particularly incentives that are not disclosed to the jury – are the central evidence in convicting an innocent person.

The bill is sponsored by defense lawyers and supported by the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys.

If Governor Jerry Brown passes the bill, prosecutors would be required to present independent evidence of guilt to corroborate an inmate’s testimony that the defendant made a jailhouse confession.

The bill has already passed in the Legislature and Gov. Brown’s decision is due by the end of the month.

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