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NCJ Number: 200670 Find in a Library
Title: Snitching and the Code of the Street
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:43  Issue:2  Dated:Spring 2003  Pages:291-309
Author(s): Richard Rosenfeld; Bruce A. Jacobs; Richard Wright
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: National Consortium on Violence Research (NCOVR)
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Grant Number: 98-ISDRP
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The practice of snitching and the role of the snitch are described in this journal article focused on the “code of the street.”
Abstract: Street criminals are especially vulnerable to crime because of the risky lives they lead. This article discusses both the code of the streets, a substitution for legal rules in regulating disputes among individuals, and the practice of snitching or giving incriminating information to police in exchange for material rewards or reduced punishment. Data analyzed in this study were generated from interviews with 20 offenders involved in committing some form of street crime. The semi-structured interviews conducted focused on offenders’ experiences and cooperation with law enforcement officials. Noting the vulnerability of street criminals, the authors discuss the content of snitching by street criminals, arguing that snitching is likely to vary according to snitches’ relationships with authority and perceptions of police behavior. The authors indicate that the majority of the offenders interviewed claimed that they never or rarely enlisted the help of the police when they or others had a problem so as not to be associated with the police in any way. Addressing the reality of snitching, the authors indicate that most snitches only use snitching when they believe that they have no other option and will often deny that they have any “real” information or are a “true” victim of crime. After differentiating active snitching from passive snitching, the authors discuss snitching and street violence arguing that snitching often leads to retaliation, beginning a cycle of retribution. Snitching and the role of the snitch are much more complex than many researchers acknowledge. References
Main Term(s): Code of ethics; Street crimes
Index Term(s): Criminal intent; Suburban area studies; Urban area studies; Urban criminality
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