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Chapter 2: Acting as Confidential Human Source Informant (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)

A. Statutory Authority

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(22), the court may provide that the defendant “satisfy such other conditions as the court may impose.”

B. Standard Condition Language

You must not act or make any agreement with a law enforcement agency to act as a confidential human source or informant without first getting the permission of the court.

C. Purpose

  1. A confidential human source or informant is a defendant who engages in the prohibited activity of associating with persons engaged in criminal activity for the purpose of furnishing information to or acting as an agent for a law enforcement or intelligence agency. Since the inception of the federal criminal justice system, prosecutors have used defendants supervised in the community as confidential human sources or informants.
  2. The activities required of confidential informants or human sources, however, may potentially conflict with conditions normally imposed by a court. Acting as a confidential informant or human source is generally inconsistent with the rehabilitative and re-integrative goals of supervision.
  3. Such activities may also pose risks to the probation officers who supervise these individuals, especially when they have limited knowledge or no knowledge of the nature of the informant’s activities.
  4. There are rare occasions, however, when the law enforcement benefits to the community justify permitting the defendant to engage in this high-risk activity.
  5. In these cases, strict monitoring by the court/probation office is necessary for the safety of the community, the defendant, and the supervising probation officer.

D. Method of Implementation

  1. Probation officers establish a systematic, coordinated approach to supervise a confidential informant or human source in order to improve probation officer safety and reduce the risk for the defendant or others in the community.
  2. There should be a written agreement that clearly defines the roles, duties, and reporting responsibilities of the probation office, the defendant, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the law enforcement agent during the period approved. This agreement should describe the conditions of supervision that are suspended as a result of the cooperation (i.e., some criminal association) and those that are not.