By Tricia Rojo Bushnell on January 5, 2022
The use of jailhouse informants is a highly unreliable and secretive feature of the criminal justice system — in Kansas and across the United States. Everyone is denied justice when someone is wrongfully convicted based on unreliable jailhouse witness testimony as we saw firsthand in the case of Kansan Pete Coones. When innocent people like Pete are convicted, it causes irrecoverable harm to the wrongfully accused and their family — but it also hurts the victims of the crime, who thought they had closure only to learn that the wrong person was held responsible. The only people who benefit from the current system are dishonest jailhouse snitches, who are offered and receive benefits to contribute to this injustice through misleading and false testimony. Jailhouse witnesses are willing to testify for the prosecution – usually about hearing other inmates confess to crimes – for a price. Prosecutors turn to jailhouse informants when their case is otherwise weak and they believe they need the informant’s testimony to secure a conviction. It is no surprise such testimony is unreliable: it is bought. Without proper protections in place, the use of jailhouse informants will continue to cause miscarriages of justice.
Read the full story via the Kansas City Star >>