Maryland Passes Jailhouse Informant Law
UPDATE: Thanks to our advocates who voiced their support for the innocent, Maryland just passed a new law to prevent wrongful convictions involving jailhouse informants. This law will protect against and regulate the use of unreliable jailhouse informants. Thank you to our advocates who fought for justice, Delegate Debra Davis who championed House Bill 637 that became law today and Senator Will Smith for sponsoring the senate version of this bill.
Four innocent people in Maryland have been wrongfully convicted based on false jailhouse informant testimony. This new law will prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
Highlights of the new law include:
- Sets up a statewide system to track the use of and benefits provided to jailhouse informants (administered through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention).
- Enhances the information that prosecutors must disclose to the defense about a jailhouse witness.
- Allows defense attorneys to request hearings for a judge to enforce the disclosure requirements.
- Requires notification to victims of crimes committed by the jailhouse witness if leniency is offered for their testimony.
Recent news coverage:
When innocent people go to prison, jailhouse informants are often to blame. Some Maryland lawmakers want to change the system. The Baltimore Sun, Feb. 13, 2020.