A woman in Alexandria, Louisiana, was allegedly raped while serving as a confidential informant for local police officers, who sat oblivious nearby during the attack. Officers with the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office (RPSO) had sent the woman into a house to make a meth buy without monitoring her in real time.
The ranking officer in the sting operation was Lt. Mark Parker. He told the Associated Press that the RPSO had never monitored in real time as confidential informants did stings, though it has started doing so now.
"We've always done it this way," Parker told the A.P. "She was an addict and we just used her as an informant like we've done a million times before."
The woman was serving as a confidential informant after being arrested around a month earlier. Confidential informants are often people who've been arrested for minor crimes and get offered leniency in exchange for helping bust someone else.
Aside from showcasing yet another tragedy of America's pointless and destructive war on drugs, the situation raises questions about the handling of confidential informants. These are people that police send into potentially dangerous situations and should have a duty to protect.
In this case, the woman sent to buy drugs from a suspected dealer was wearing a hidden microphone and camera. But the equipment did not transmit to sheriff's deputies in real time. Instead, they left her on her own, waiting for her to come out while the dealer, Antonio D. Jones, allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him, twice.
"Authorities … never considered such an attack might happen and the devices the woman carried didn't have the ability to transmit the operation to law enforcement in real time," the A.P. reported.
"It was recording but not to where my guys were monitoring it," said Rapides Parish Sheriff Mark Wood, blaming the January 2021 incident on his inexperience from only being in the top job six months at that time. "There are always things you learn that you can do better."
The case in this central Louisiana city of 47,000 underscores the perils confidential informants face seeking to "work off" criminal charges in loosely regulated and often secretive arrangements with law enforcement. Police rely on informants in a wide range of cases, compensating them with money or leniency in their own cases yet often providing little or no training. …
David Redemann, a longtime Seattle police officer who now leads training on such stings, said the case highlights the vast disparities in law enforcement's undercover playbook, with many agencies lacking the resources to properly train officers or monitor informant drug buys.
"We do this 10,000 times a day around the country, and not everybody has transmitting equipment," Redemann said. "Is this tragic as hell? Absolutely. We need to learn from what happened here."
Law enforcement's use of confidential informants is akin to a black market in which "deals are made under the table and often undocumented," said Alexandra Natapoff, a Harvard law professor and leading expert on informants.
Not only are informants treated as disposable pawns, she said, but qualified immunity has made it very difficult to sue the police when things go off the rails.
After the assault, the woman left the house and told police what happened. Jones was subsequently charged with second-degree rape and false imprisonment in addition to distribution of meth. Last month, the rape charge was reduced to third-degree rape.
Three weeks later, the woman who served as a confidential informant was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. "She's been pulled over and booked on possession charges at least twice since then," notes the Associated Press. She "pleaded guilty to possessing drug paraphernalia last year and was placed in behavioral health court in lieu of jail time."
The authoritarian convergence. "The problem with American politics isn't polarization—it's rising illiberalism," writes Stephanie Slade in her excellent Reason cover story, now online.
Something is broken in our politics. Just about everyone knows it, but it can be hard to put your finger on what it is.
As the media attempt to grapple with this felt reality, they reach over and over for the same word: polarization. That, we're told, is the shorthand for what has gone wrong. Where once the country had its share of conservative Democrats, liberal Republicans, and mushy moderates, today the two parties are more internally consolidated—and further apart from each other—than ever.
But what if that explanation is missing something? What if there's a sense in which left and right are actually converging, and the nature of that convergence is the real source of the perception that something isn't right?
Read the whole thing here.
Inflation is up, stocks are down. The latest report on inflation shows that prices continued to rise in August, climbing 0.1 percent overall. "Prices have climbed by 8.3 percent over the past 12 months," notes Reason's Eric Boehm. More:
That's down from the 8.5 percent mark in July, but the uptick in August's monthly figure seemingly puts an end to hopes that prices were finally cooling after a year of increases, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the 1970s.
But, wait, how can inflation be rising and yet be down from the tallies announced in both June and July? That's because the annualized rate—the 8.3 percent number—is the sum of the past 12 monthly figures. Prices rose by 0.1 percent in August, but this month's annualized rate drops from last August's monthly rate of 0.3 percent. So the annual figure declined even though inflation rose last month.
In response to the report, stock prices tumbled, giving us the worst Dow Jones Industrial Average slide since June 2020.
Stocks fell sharply on Tuesday after a key August inflation report came in hotter than expected, hurting investor optimism for cooling prices and a less aggressive Fed.
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 13, 2022
A woman whose DNA was taken as part of a rape investigation and later used to convict her of an unrelated property crime is now suing the city of San Francisco. More here.
"Federal law already prohibits the inclusion of victims' DNA in the national Combined DNA Index System," notes ABC News. But "there is no corresponding law in California to prohibit local law enforcement databases from retaining victims' profiles and searching them years later for entirely different purposes."
"This is government overreach of the highest order, using the most unique and personal thing we have—our genetic code—without our knowledge to try and connect us to crime," Adante Pointer, the woman's lawyer, said in a statement.
"After 9/11 libertarians tried to warn us about the Patriot Act and that it would be used against us. They were right and they deserve an apology from conservatives, including me." - Michael Anton, in a talk attacking security agencies, FASFA, and the FBI #NatCon3 pic.twitter.com/sGgINXSIE3
— Tho Bishop (@ThoBishop) September 13, 2022
• "Christian Glass called 911 for help after crashing his car into an embankment in Silver Plume—he needed someone to unstick his car," reports the Denver Post. Within a few hours, he would be shot to death by police.
• A timely review of Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire.
• New U.K. prime minister Liz Truss considers scaling back the nanny state.
• Reminder: The world really is getting better.
• Biden's sneaky censors.
• Bipartisanship is just another word for literally the worst ideas:
NEW: Lindsey Graham told us he wants to team up with Elizabeth Warren on a bill to stand up a *New Regulatory Agency* that would oversee and LICENSE companies like Twitter. https://t.co/gL5ue9xLBs
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) September 14, 2022