Arrested because of combat or other military trauma? Here’s just one-fact-of-life: the snitch

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam WebsterSnitches get Stitches. image of kid possibly snitching. friend across street with handgun . 350 x 359


From a Dallas Observer story featuring a client I represented after he’d already been convicted at the trial court: if you’re gonna play in Texas . . .

Faced with the prospect of a long prison sentence because of his status as a career offender, Combs said he agreed to work as an informant with the Dallas Police Department. According to Combs’ attorney, Charles Bloeser of Nashville, the agreement was made in January 2003 during a 10-minute conversation with Detective Dunn and her supervisor at a Minyard’s parking lot. They told Combs he was obligated to make three felony-level purchases of marijuana or cocaine that lead to three separate arrests, and he would have to do so within a 90-day period, Bloeser said. In exchange, the 2002 drug case against him would be dropped (a case that was ultimately dismissed for lack of evidence).”

. . .

The use of informants is seen as an essential element of the drug war, but there are few, if any, safeguards in place to protect them. Unlike a plea bargain, which is detailed and public, informants enter into secret agreements that “are vague and open-ended,” according to a 2004 study by Loyola Law School professor Alexandra Natapoff. Sometimes the agreement is made in writing, and sometimes it is not. As a result, informants can easily be taken advantage of. A reward for cooperation may range from a clean record to a reduced sentence to nothing at all if the handler decides the information is no good, Natapoff writes. Certain crimes are allowed, while others are not. Sometimes an arrangement can last for years.

Snitches a Dying Breed skull image. 350 x 266It is entirely possible, then, that Combs’ story is true, although he does have a credibility problem: Since 1979, he has been charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, possession and a long list of other crimes. It is worth noting, however, that the DPD thought him credible enough to use him as an informant.



Link to the complete story about Mr. Combs is below.

Reverse Rat _ Dallas Observer. article online image accessed 22 October 2018

Reverse Rat _ Dallas Observer. story re Roy Combs case. 9 Nov. 2006

Docket sheet at United States Supreme Court

Roy Combs v. US docket sheet SCOTUS 06-8069

Here are two recent products about the all-too-frequent cattle chute from PTSD to prison. The first earned a U.S. Marine combat infantryman the Pulitzer Prize. The second source is a 2017 doctoral dissertation by Jolene Van Nevel, PhD: From Combat Veterans to Criminals: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Criminal Justice Involvement. 

From Combat Veterans to Criminals PTSD and CJI. 2017 doctoral dissertation Jolene Van Nevel PhD. cover image305 x 400See also:

Jolene Van Nevel. From Combat Veterans to Criminals: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Criminal Justice Involvement. Doctoral dissertation. Walden University 2017.





Feature image: PBS Frontline. SNITCH: how informants have become a key part of prosecutorial strategy in the drug war.


ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted, Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s