“Loose lips sink ships.”
“Snitches get stitches.”
You may have heard these words at some point in your life. You may even be familiar with what a tattletale is. However, do you know what snitching is? Snitching is an act in where someone provides incriminating information to the police about the criminal activity of others so that the cops show leniency in punishment to the one who provided them with information. This way, the one who provided police with information avoids getting in trouble or gets in less trouble. A person who does this is called a snitch.
Today, certain acts of telling on someone may be considered snitching by some people and not other acts. For some people, involving the police for any reason is considered snitching. Other people may differ and feel that if they are not living by street and hood codes and have friends who are connected to the streets and hood, then the strict rules of the code of snitching do not apply to them. Loyalty is abandoned between those who made an agreement to not disclose any incriminating information against each other and self-serving interests prevail with snitching. There have been songs, movies, books, and documentaries made about snitching. It’s a hot topic.
Let us explore snitching by these examples.
For example, let’s say that you are a drug dealer and get caught by the police. You may be facing 10 years in prison, but you want to walk free. So, you make a deal with the district attorney to get less or no time if you agree to inform the police about another drug dealer in the drug game so that the police can bust and arrest them. Or, you give information to the police or district attorney about your co-defendant that you got busted in crime with to get leniency. This is called snitching.
Some adults may have been childhood snitches. Remember these words during the midst of play when a fight erupted in the absence of adults and someone got hit?
I’m telling momma!”
“I’m about to go tell that you hit me!”
“I’m telling on you!”
Some kids probably didn't think much about being a tattletale. They probably felt like the misdeeds of other children warranted a report to Mother Matriarch, who acted as the enforcer of strict repercussions. This would be a form of snitching to some people and not others.
In the workplace and when it comes to project teamwork, employees may blame each other for errors and failures. They may do this to save their image in front of their boss and prevent negative performance evaluations. This may be considered a form of snitching to some and not others.
What actions are and are not considered snitching?
People may often confuse what actions constitute snitching. Here is an example to make things clear for you. If you call the police on a kidnapper after spotting them with an abducted child, then you may not be considered a snitch because your actions will help to save the child. Keep in mind that if you choose to be a vigilante to deal with the kidnapper yourself that you may face consequences if caught or injury or death if the kidnapper retaliates against you. However, if you are busted in drug dealing, sign a statement or agreement, and provide documents that will help to arrest someone to get lenient treatment, then that is snitching.
Some people despise snitching unless it involves others who are close to them. If their loved one is a victim of a heinous crime, then they may encourage others to come forth and report information to the police. They may not consider it snitching. However, if their loved one commits an egregious crime against someone, then the loved one(s) of the accused may not report them and may even discourage others from reporting them. They may be viewed as a snitch.
Reasons why people snitch on others to the police:
· The main reason behind snitching is for someone to reduce the consequences of their criminal acts. A snitch faces punishment according to the law because they are a criminal in the eyes of the police. A snitch already knows he or she may be going to prison for an extended period. A snitch wants to avoid jail or prison time, mistreatment and abuse in prison, undesirable food, restrictions on activities, solitary confinement, and negative images of jail or prison. This can make criminals snitch on others to the police. Some people snitch on others out of jealousy, envy, or to retaliate against someone.
Another reason behind snitching on others to the police is that a snitch wants to keep their illegal activities active. If they get caught by the police and arrested, then it will be hard for them to keep their illegal activities running.
· The last reason behind snitching is to reduce or potentially eliminate the amount of time served in jail or prison. Police may help a snitch to get out of jail on an agreement that they have to provide information about the illegal activities of others.
Some other words for a snitch are:
Consequences of being a snitch:
· There are consequences for being a snitch. Some people are afraid of repercussions from thieves and criminals. Other people view people who don’t snitch to the police as honorable. However, once others find out that someone snitched to the police to get lenient treatment, then the snitch is not viewed favorably. They may be subjected to “street justice” and retaliated against. Some punishments for snitching include getting jumped, maimed, and/or even killed.
· Snitches may feel like they are reducing crime. However, when snitches get lenient treatment from the police and do not get arrested, they are free to provide the police with information and commit a crime. This can raise the number of illegal activities. Snitches run the risk of retaliation if they are not caught by the police while continuing their illegal activities. They can still end up in jail or prison after getting leniency from the district attorney. Therefore, snitching can be a gamble either way.
· After snitching and receiving lenient treatment, a snitch is not trusted by others who dealt with them. They can become a target in the community they live in and end up injured or worse.
What is Dry snitching?
Dry snitching is different from snitching because in this case, someone indirectly tells authorities about someone’s wrongdoings. In dry snitching, the person provides indirect clues about the other person's actions rather than directly reporting someone’s activities.
Let’s look at this with a simple example.
Imagine that you went on your allowed one-hour lunch break with a friend outside of the office building and when you come back to the office, a co-worker says in front of your boss, "Hmmm…I didn’t know that our job allows us to spend one and a half hours for a lunch break." In this scenario, the boss will know that you and your co-worker were late getting back from a one-hour lunch break.
Another real-life example is when someone lives at home with their parents who pay their college tuition and they miss a college class and go to a friend’s party. Then, when they get home, their brother speaks in front of their parents that their professor was asking why they were absent from class, today. This will give their parents a strong clue that they did not attend class, and now they may be faced with questions.
Some people feel like there is an absolute need to make strict codes of law for snitches. In the past and to date, police use informants to get information about other criminals and leave them free in society, when it comes to the rules of the streets, others who live by the street rules may feel like snitches violate those rules. Therefore, they feel that there is an urgent need for setting strict anti-snitch codes.
Some people are not aware of what happens behind the scenes. They may have no idea about the type of agreements that informants sign or with the police or district attorney. Most of the time, the full story is unknown. Criminal cases can be brought up in the media. Sometimes, paid informants who are immune from arrest are hired by law enforcement and the informants are named and other times, they are not. Informants and/or witnesses may go into a federal Witness Protection Program that is designed to protect threatened witnesses and informants without disclosing their identity. Witnesses and informants may be viewed as snitches by those who favor an anti-snitching code or are being testified against.
To folks who live by an anti-snitching code, it may not be a matter of reducing crime by reporting criminals to get them off the street because they realize that snitches who are criminals end up getting little to no time by snitching so snitching defeats the purpose of reporting. Also, for some folks who live by an anti-snitching code, it may be a matter of maintaining one’s word and honor.
Snitching is an act of telling damaging information about someone else’s activities (usually illegal) for various reasons and can have numerous negative consequences. Snitching can be considered a hot topic for people who live guarded or questionable lives. Depending on one’s outlook or lifestyle, snitching can be viewed as good or detrimental. When it comes to living by rules or codes, there’s an old saying, “If you’re going to play the game, you better know and play by the rules especially if you didn’t create the game.” The best way to win in the game of snitching is to not play the hood and street game at all so you will not be labeled a snitch.
Hot Topic Questions:
What are your views on snitching?
What do you think about the Witness Protection Program for witnesses?
Would you do 30, 40, 50 years or life in prison to not be a snitch or police informant? Why or why not?
Would you take the death penalty to not be a snitch? Why or why not?
Would you do life in prison to save your mom or close family member or friend from going to prison to do life to not be a snitch? Why or why not?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
1. Snitching – Criminal Informants And The Erosion of American Justice by Alexandra Netapoff
3. Undercover Informant 2: Still Snitching by Ms. Tracy White
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