Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Evidenced Based Social Policy Advocacy - Criminal Justice, Use of Incentivized Informants

The fourth largest factor in wrongful convictions in the 367 people exonerated by DNA evidence by the Innocence project was use of incentivized informants with 17% of the cases.


Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. When people have conflicts of interest, it is human nature that justice, equity, and compassion often are set aside in the interests of self-preservation and self-aggrandizement. It takes a very mature person to rise above these perverse, narcissistic incentives.

What makes things worse for justice, equity, and compassion to be honored and implemented is when the incentives of a system are perverted to encourage such conflicts of interest, or they are overlooked in the service of an unjust or inequitable goal being achieved.

Unitarian Universalists, as they enact the second principle, should be alert to the perverse incentives in systems to favor some participants over others. When good people do bad things, it is usually because the system not only allows it, but incentivizes it in some way. No better and damaging examples can be given than those that occur in the criminal justice system.

What is the policy of the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in your jurisdiction when it comes to the use of informants and incentivized witnesses?

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