Lying prisoners: New laws crack down on jailhouse informants

Lying prisoners: New laws crack down on jailhouse informants
FILE - In this June 8, 2017 file photo, Innocence Project lawyer Vanessa Potkin, left, hugs Alfred Swinton, in Superior Court in Hartford, Conn. Swinton served almost two decades in prison for the 1991 killing of Carla Terry before he was cleared based on new DNA evidence. Several states have moved to toughen regulations on the use of jailhouse informants. Advocates said Swinton's erroneous conviction was based in part on the testimony of lying inmates. (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant via AP, Pool, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An effort to more tightly regulate the use of jailhouse informants is gaining momentum across the country in the wake of exonerations of people wrongly convicted of crimes.

A new Connecticut law approved in July will create the nation’s first statewide system to track the use of informants and how they are rewarded, which will help defendants challenge informants’ credibility.

Advocates cited the cases of two men who were wrongly convicted of murder based in part on the testimony of lying inmates.

Illinois, Nebraska and Texas are among other states that have enacted tougher jailhouse informant laws within the past two years.

The American Civil Liberties Union says about one in five of the 365 people exonerated nationwide by DNA evidence were convicted with the help of jailhouse informants.