skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 118622 Find in a Library
Title: Snitch System: How Informants Affect Prison Security
Journal: Corrections Today  Volume:51  Issue:4  Dated:(July 1989)  Pages:26-28,72
Author(s): P Johnson
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 4
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article focuses on three common situations involving prison informants: the snitch system, innocent witnesses or victims, and co-conspirators.
Abstract: Reasons for understanding the ethics and realities of information gathering in prison are discussed: the prison culture taboo against informing, the value prison society places on deception and lying to officials, and protecting informants against death threats. The author cautions that a formal snitch system, using inmates as spies in return for special privileges, causes more problems than it solves. The 1980 riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico is cited as an example of the evils of this system. The article comments that information must be sought from inmates when investigating crimes, rule violations, or threats to security, but that protection must be provided to witnesses. A discussion of inmates as innocent witnesses versus co-conspirators recommends a high degree of skepticism and reliance on conclusive evidence.
Main Term(s): Informants
Index Term(s): Corrections internal security; Inmate attitudes
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.