Being accused of any criminal offense can be an incredibly frightening experience, especially in instances where a person has never been charged with a crime before. Beyond that, many people are unfamiliar with the law or their rights in such cases, which leads to them making uninformed and/or inadvisable legal decisions. Some young people, for instance, are persuaded by North Dakota law enforcement agencies to become undercover drug informants in order to avoid criminal charges even though such conduct can be incredibly dangerous.
The American Civil Liberties Union criticizes the practice of law enforcement agencies recruiting nonviolent drug offenders as undercover informants in drug transactions. In fact, several states have come under fire for exposing college students and other young people to unnecessary danger by using them as informants. The murder of one undercover informant resulted in new legislation in one state; however, North Dakota continues to rely on undercover informants to bust drug dealings on college campuses across the state.
While some object to these types of law enforcement tactics over safety concerns for the students involved, others also take issue with the fact that those who agree to be informants often have little knowledge of the law or their rights. One state college student died under suspicious circumstances last year while acting as a confidential informant. He reportedly agreed to join the program one day after being told he could face more than 40 years in prison for selling marijuana. The young man’s body was found almost two months after his disappearance. He never appeared at court for his drug charges.
Source: Duluth News Tribune, “North Dakota student’s death raises questions about campus drug informants,” Matt McKinney, July 20, 2015