The Throwaways by Sarah Stillman (The New Yorker)

The Throwaways by Sarah Stillman

Stillman sheds light for readers of The New Yorker on how the police enlist young offenders as confidential informants, who are often left to no choice but to work high-risk assignments, largely unregulated, and sometimes fatal interactions with dangerous drug-related criminals.

What I like the most about this article is simply Stillman’s style of writing. For instance, the author uses proper technique in detailing and formatting a relatable use of context of words to create an understandable and vivid account of the horrible conditions of what the young informants had to face with their involvement. Stillman also depicts the specific case details and include the morbid gruesome outcomes, which help the reader to fully understand the seriousness of the interactions made with the dangerous criminals. The author’s technique of utilizing powerful quotes from the family members of the deceased informants to assist the reader to become overly sympathetic to the families who lost their loved ones.

“Irv Hoffman, too, has his rituals. Every morning, he drives to Rachel’s grave, carrying his supplies in the trunk: a bottle of water for Rachel’s flowers, a pair of scissors to freshen their stems, a beach chair to sit in and read beside his daughter’s memorial bench, Stillman says.”

What makes this article such a great read is the essential everlasting thought that the author leaves the reader. To elaborate, if for one second you put yourself in the shoes of the informants or the family members who were affected, you would realize that this could happen to anyone. Especially, young adults caught up in recreational drugs and bad decisions.

By the end of the article, the author makes the abuse of power by police forces evident and clear as day to the reader. This abuse of power is still an ongoing issue even in 2015, though the article was originally published back in 2012. Sarah Stillman does a great job in shedding light on what most people aren’t really aware about; the tragic risks young confidential informants face when pressured to take on dangerous assignments with extremely dangerous police targets.

This article’s theme aims to strike a more provocative message to the reader.  Stillman details and elaborates powerful realization to the reader about what is going on in the police force that most don’t know about. This genre of reporting and journalism is not often thrown at public such as celebrity gossip or “bubble gum”  headlining. In conclusion, I recommend those who value true reporting and provocative journalism to take a further look into Sarah Stillman’s The Throwaways.


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