At the Office

Alexandra Natapoff on Snitching

police line

Alexandra Natapoff, a professor at Loyola Law School, characterizes snitching not as a single act but as an entire system of law enforcement and criminal justice. Especially since the War on Drugs began, she said, the U.S. has seen an increase in the use of informants and “the trading away of guilt,” changing the way we mete out justice, the length of sentences, the determination of who to prosecute, and the prison system. “Everybody knows if they come up with information about each other,” Natapoff said of prisoners, “they can get a deal.” Natapoff, author of Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice, stopped by Zócalo’s offices to chat about what snitching means, the controversial “stop snitching” term, and the question from a young boy – about why police sometimes allow dealers to stay on the street – that spurred her to study snitching.

*Video produced by Laura Villalpando. Photo courtesy Tony Webster.