Nathaniel E. Epps and Percell F. Warren loudly protested their innocence when they were convicted of raping and beating a woman in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1996. Two decades later, DNA testing has just proven conclusively that they could not have been the perpetrators, but the truth is confirmed too late for Warren who died of cancer in 2012 – while still incarcerated for crimes he did not commit.
No-one should be under the illusion that the average jailhouse snitch is a “noble whistleblower”, only interested in seeing that justice is properly served. There is now a mountain of evidence that many informants lie under oath. In some cases, the motivation may be money, in many more it is the reduction of prison time or other favors; false testimony is often a last resort by a desperate inmate.