17 Year-Old Police Informant Killed, Girlfriend Raped and Shot in California 3/27/98

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- Barrington Daltrey for DRCNet

The use of juveniles by law enforcement agencies pursuant to plea bargains has come under scrutiny in California this week. How extensive is the practice? No one knows, since the records of such agreements are subject to the privacy laws protecting juveniles.

Earlier in the week, Southern California was shocked by the disclosure that the death of Chad McDonald, a 17 year old boy, and the brutal rape and attempted murder of his 15 year old girlfriend, might have resulted from the Brea police department's use of the boy as an informant. The Brea police department steadfastly denies any involvement, pointing out the incident took place in Norwalk, an area outside the Brea P.D.'s jurisdiction. But an attorney for the youth's mother claims that she allowed her son to act as an informant in return for having him released into her custody. The attorney also has stated that the mother tried to send the boy to relatives on the east coast in order to get him away from the streets of L.A., but that the Brea police wouldn't allow it. "They kept wanting more and more" from him, she said.

Coverage of the incident began after the discovery early in the month of the boy's body in an alley in South Central L.A., and discovery of the girl, left for dead, in the nearby mountains. The most recent disclosures came after the girl recovered from her injuries sufficiently to discuss what had happened.

Lloyd Charton, attorney for Cindy MacDonald, the boy's mother, was widely quoted as suggesting the two minors had entered a "drug den" in Norwalk in order to please Brea PD supervisors. It was reported that the boy, Chad MacDonald, had agreed to work as an informant in the course of a plea agreement in juvenile court.

Brea P.D. Chief Bill Lentini has indicated his department was not involved in the Norwalk incident and expressed frustration at his inability to comment further due to the privacy laws concerning juvenile court proceedings. In fact, according to Lentini, his department filed a petition for review in the Orange County Superior Court, Juvenile Division on March 25, 1998. The petition seeks authorization to discuss the matter with the press.

The unanswered question is what specific court orders were imposed upon Chad MacDonald in trade for his release from the system. It should be noted that under California law, juveniles are not "prosecuted", but made "wards of the court" in order to protect them. Release of the court documents might provide insight into just how the court intended to rehabilitate and protect MacDonald. Did it in fact approve a plea bargain whereby MacDonald would be involved in undercover narcotics investigations, as alleged?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question remains shrouded by the secrecy laws designed to protect minors from disclosure of their wrongdoing. The documents remain in the court file, marked "confidential."

(Jerome Miller, of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, made an interesting several page discussion of the unintended consequences of the use of informants, in Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System -- a book containing a wealth of statistical and qualitative information on the impact of crime and the war on crime and drugs. Purchase Search and Destroy from amazon.com, and DRCNet will earn 15% of your purchase (only on this book, not on other books you may purchase in the same visit). Just follow this link, and DRCNet will automatically be credited for your purchase.)

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Issue #35, 3/27/98 Leaked McCaffrey Letter Indicates Opposition to Lifting Syringe Exchange Funding Ban | 17 Year-Old Police Informant Killed, Girlfriend Raped and Shot in California | Plano, Texas Undercover Police Bought Heroin Six Times for 16 Year-Old Recovering Addict | A Strong Day in Court for Medical Marijuana in California: Further Arguments to be Heard April 6 | House Delays Vote on Anti-Medical Marijuana Resolution: Still Time to Contact Your Congressional Representative | Campus Group Advocating Marijuana Law Reform Denied Recognition by University President | Penn State Professor Appears at Hearing: Continues Protest | Basketball Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Busted for Pot at Canadian Border: Claims Medicinal Use | DRCNet Special Report: Colombian Situation Worsens - US Military Involvement Stepped Up - Backsliding Toward a Quagmire? | Classified DEA Report Says Drug Corruption in Mexican Military More Serious than Previously Believed | Swiss Government Angered by World Health Organization's Delay in Evaluating Heroin Maintenance Trial | Editorial: War Crimes and Quagmires... How Low Can We Go, and Where are We Headed?
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