As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Governor Jerry Brown of California has approved bill SB687 which will require prosecutors to corroborate jailhouse witness testimony in court. The statements of jailhouse witnesses, prisoners that inform against fellow inmates, will no longer be sufficient evidence to find a defendant guilty of a crime. Prosecutors will now have to ensure that additional independent evidence is gathered to support charges against the defendant.
Whilst some people have argued that this will make it harder to secure criminal convictions, supporters of the new legislation argue that it will help to prevent miscarriages of justice based on jailhouse informants who may have reasons to fabricate statements against fellow inmates. 17 other states have already introduced similar legislation.
Police forces and prosecutors will now face the challenge of putting processes are in place to make sure that appropriate evidence is gathered following witness statements from jailhouse informants. ABM’s abmpegasus Debrief module is designed to do just that.