How Hard Is It to Investigate  Crimes That Happen Behind Bars?

Quora
The best answer to any question.
Oct. 15 2013 5:23 PM

Is It Harder to Investigate Crimes That Happen Inside Prisons?

tdees

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Tim Dees, retired cop and criminal justice professor, Reno Police Department, Reno Municipal Court, and Pyramid lake Paiute Tribal Police Department:

The investigation will be a little like going after a crime committed in a neighborhood where there is a lot of gang activity. Lots of people were around, but no one saw anything.

Advertisement

Being labeled as an informer in prison isn't just going to make you a pariah—it's close to being a death sentence, or a sure trip to protective (solitary confinement) custody. The very best you can hope for is a reduction in sentence and being shipped off to a distant facility under an assumed name to serve the rest of your sentence. Prisons do this fairly often under an interstate agreement. State A sends State B ten (or whatever number) of their problem prisoners to house; State B does the same thing to State A. Most of those prisoners will be informers, former cops or corrections officers, or child molesters.

prison
Investigating crime inside prisons is no easy task.

Mario Tama

It's highly likely you'll recover the murder weapon, but by the time you find it, it will either have been wiped free of any latent prints, or there will be so many prints on it (a result of the weapon being quickly passed along to get it out of the target area) that it will be impossible to determine who it originally belonged to.

If you do identify a suspect and your witnesses are inmates, the trial will still be problematic. All of your witnesses will be convicted felons, and the defense will make sure the jury understands this.

One of the most unjust aspects of our prison system is that the institution cannot guarantee the safety of inmates. An inmate who wants to simply serve his time may still have to live in fear of attack. The alternative (which may not even be available, due to overcrowding), is to live in solitary confinement, which can be maddening.

More questions on crime:

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.