Using students as informants unfair

Daily Editorial Board

Officials found a North Dakota college student dead last year in Minnesota’s Red River — he had been shot once in the head and wore a backpack full of rocks. Andrew Sadek was a drug informant working for the local police, who had caught him selling a few grams of marijuana on campus. 
 
Under North Dakota law, selling marijuana or selling harder drugs like cocaine is treated the same way as a Class A felony that can land the defendant a potentially decades-long prison sentence. Understandably, Sadek opted to work as a drug informant to try to minimize the legal consequences of his crime.
 
But some people, including Sadek’s parents, are now pushing for changes to state law. The possible sentence is much too harsh, they say, and it affects young adults who may not understand the full implications of their actions.
 
North Dakota officials say Sadek was a legal adult who was capable of making his own decisions. Moreover, they say offering the chance to become a drug informant gives potential prisoners more options.
 
We think it’s unfair to employ young adults who have little to no criminal history to carry out potentially dangerous drug busts. It’s also unrealistic to treat those selling marijuana and those selling cocaine in the same way, as North Dakota law does.
 
Thankfully, the University of Minnesota police department does not make a practice of employing student drug informants. We urge North Dakota police departments to do the same.