In an effort to solve old homicide cases, the Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) has released a very special deck of playing cards into the commissaries of four state prisons. Each “cold case” playing card features a homicide victim’s picture, details of the crime, and a number for prisoners to call if they have any information about the murderer. If a prisoner has accurate information, they can call the tip number and testify in court to receive a reward. However, this also puts snitching prisoners in a dangerous position with their fellow inmates.
Selling these playing cards in prisons has already led to several arrests in Connecticut and 16 other states. Even so, critics are concerned about both the ethics and the overall effectiveness of this plan. These cards essentially ask prisoners to police each other, which means that their testimonies may not always be trustworthy. According to “House of Cards,” an article on The Appeal website, “nearly 50 percent of wrongful murder convictions involved perjury by someone such as a ‘jailhouse snitch or another witness who stood to gain from the false testimony.’”
The Appeal, which is a prominent source of criminal defense news and commentary, turned to our very own lead trial attorney, Jonathan Sills, to weigh in on this issue. According to Attorney Sills, “I think you have to be skeptical of somebody [calling in tips]. Somebody could certainly see the card, could maybe know something about the incident—but not everything—and then stretch the truth a little. Certainly, you can have people who could just outright fabricate information about a particular incident. And if they had this information beforehand, why are they only calling it in after being incarcerated?”
Since Connecticut released these playing cards, law enforcement officials have received tips from about 770 people. However, Mike Sullivan, Chief Inspector of Connecticut’s Cold Case Bureau, revealed to The Appeal that only 100 of these tips were credible.
Place Your Future in Reliable Hands
The great danger of these playing cars is that many innocent people are being implicated in crimes they didn’t commit. Contact the Connecticut criminal defense attorneys at The Sills Law Firm if you’ve been arrested and charged with a criminal offense. We have over 20+ years of collective experience and can use our skills and resources to defend your rights in court.