Cover image for Ratting : the use and abuse of informants in the American justice system
Ratting : the use and abuse of informants in the American justice system
Bloom, Robert M., 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 206 pages ; 25 cm
A historical overview of informants -- The political informant : "a certain fair-weather friend"--the story of Linda Tripp -- The nonexistent informant : the story of officer Carlos Luna -- Jailhouse informants : the stories of Leslie Vernon White and Anthony Michael Sarivola -- High-level informants : the story of James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi -- The end of the story.
Reading Level:
1460 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF9665 .B58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Showing informants in a variety of contexts provides a broader picture of them, and highlights the potential pitfalls associated with their use within our criminal justice system. Police depend on insiders to prosecute the perpetrators of many of the so-called victimless crimes like drug dealing, money laundering and political corruption. As victimless crimes have grown, so has the use of informants. Providing insights into law enforcement techniques as well as the Court's response to them, Bloom illuminates the pernicious legal ramifications that can result from the justice system's relationship to and use of informers. Law professors, criminologists, and law enforcement scholars will find Bloom's account of this much used and abused but under-reported aspect of America's law enforcement efforts both edifying and sobering.

There are different kinds of informants. Some are used to infiltrate and destroy organized crime operations, and others, such as Linda Tripp, are used to investigate government officials. Informants are motivated by a variety of reasons, including financial gain, political power, elimination of competition, and avoiding criminal punishment. Some are even imaginary, fabricated by police to justify their activity. Bloom discusses each type of informer, grounding his commentary in real cases, some well known, others obscure. He then concludes by suggesting how potential and real abuses of the informant system can be curbed.

Author Notes

ROBERT M. BLOOM is Professor of Law at Boston College Law School. He has written extensively in the area of criminal procedure, focusing on police abuses and the Fourth Amendment.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In his study of informants, Bloom identifies two types of informers: the "incidental" informer who supplies information to the authorities about one particular incident, and the "recruited" informer who supplies information on an ongoing basis. Although the two types of informers differ in a number of ways, and the recruited reformer appears the most problematic, the roles of both types of informers have always been dubious. Some may come forward out of a sense of civic duty but most have mixed motives: exchanging information for some sort of tangible benefit. One wonders, for example, whether the use of informers encourages private individuals to spy on each other. By overlooking illegal conduct or granting immunity to unsavory informers, does the government compromise itself and foster crime? Does payment of recruited informers encourage fabrication of evidence and thus further compromise public authority? The author addresses these and other important questions through case studies, beginning with an account of the activities of Linda Tripp, the incidental informer whose revelations almost toppled President Clinton. He then examines the importance of informers historically and analyzes their use (and abuse) in different settings. The result is a superb book, accessible to general readers, informative to scholars, and useful to practitioners. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. M. M. Feeley University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Chapter 1 A Historical Overview of Informantsp. 1
Chapter 2 The Political Informantp. 9
Chapter 3 The Nonexistent Informantp. 31
Chapter 4 Jailhouse Informantsp. 63
Chapter 6 High-Level Informantsp. 81
Chapter 6 The End of the Storyp. 155
Bibliographyp. 183
Cases Indexp. 197
Subject Indexp. 201
About the Authorp. 207