OC's Jailhouse Snitch Scandal Has Upended 57 Criminal Cases

Criminal convictions have now been overturned in 57 cases, including 35 homicide cases, as a result of Orange County’s jailhouse informant scandal. That’s according to Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, who first brought the so-called ‘snitch’ program to light.

Sanders conducted an analysis based on data from the district attorney’s office.

“We already knew that this was the largest and longest running informant scandal in U.S. history, but there had never been a complete accounting of the cases with changed outcomes,” Sanders told the Orange County Register

The illegal program ran from 2007 to 2016 under former district attorney Tony Rackauckas and former sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Law enforcement officials placed jailhouse informants in cells with defendants – without the presence of their lawyers – to elicit confessions in exchange for money or other benefits. Officials kept the program secret and hid exculpatory evidence from the defendants’ attorneys.

State and federal officials later found that the program violated the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to due process.