United States Federal Witness Protection Program

United States Federal Witness Protection Program

The United States Federal Witness Protection Program is a witness protection program administered by the United States Department of Justice to protect threatened witnesses before, during, and after a trial.

Witness protection is usually required in trials against organized crime, where law enforcement sees a risk for witnesses to be intimidated by colleagues of defendants.Fact|date=July 2008

Many states, including California, Illinois, and New York, have their own witness protection programs for crimes not covered by the federal program. The state-run programs provide less extensive protections than the federal program. [ [http://caag.state.ca.us/cbi/content/protection.htm California Witness Protection Program - California Bureau of Investigation - California Dept. of Justice - Office of the Attorney General ] ] [ [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00F1EFF3D590C758CDDAE0894DB404482 'LIE OR DIE' - Aftermath of a Murder; Justice, Safety and the System: A Witness Is Slain in Brooklyn - New York Times ] ]


In the United States, the Witness Protection Program (also known as the Witness Security Program, or WitSec) was established under Title V of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, which in turn sets out the manner in which the United States Attorney General may provide for the relocation and protection of a witness or potential witness of the federal or state government in an official proceeding concerning organized crime or other serious offenses. See 18 U.S.C.A 3521 et. seq.

The Federal Government also gives grants to the states to enable them to provide similar services. The federal program is called WITSEC (the Federal Witness Protection Program) and was founded in the late 1960s by Gerald Shur when he was in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the United States Department of Justice. Most witnesses are protected by the U.S. Marshals Service, while protection of incarcerated witnesses is the duty of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.


Normally, the witness is provided with a new name and location. Witnesses are encouraged to keep their first names and choose last names with the same initial, in order to make it easier to instinctively use the new identity. The U.S. Marshals Service provides new documentation, assists in finding housing and employment and provides a stipend until the witness gets on his or her feet, but the stipend can be discontinued if the U.S. Marshals Service feels that the witness is not making an aggressive effort to find a job. Witnesses are not to travel back to their hometowns or contact unprotected family members or former associates. In order to do everything possible to preclude the possibility that the witness could be followed, the witness is made to adhere to an extremely convoluted and indirect transportation path, before finally reaching the distant location where they will live under the new identity. Often, the transit involves a long chain of seemingly random air flights, with times and locations which are intended to be difficult for a potential adverse party to anticipate. Around 17 percent of protected witnesses who have committed a crime will commit another crime, compared to the almost 40 percent of parolees who return to crime. [http://people.howstuffworks.com/witness-protection.htm Howstuffworks "How Witness Protection Works" ] ]


Further reading

* Pete Earley and Gerald Shur. "WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program". Bantam Books, Hardcover February 2002, ISBN 0-553-80145-7, Paperback April 2003, ISBN 0-553-58243-7
* Gregg and Gina Hill, "On the Run: A Mafia Childhood", Warner Books, October 14, 2004, hardcover, 256 pages, ISBN 0-446-52770-X
* John W. King. "The Breeding of Contempt: Account of the Largest Mass Murder in Washington, D.C. History". Xlibris Publishing 2003, ISBN 9781401079031
* Marcia Mitchell. "Betrayed: Outlaw Bikers, Rogue US Marshals, a Failed Witness Protection Program, and Jane Doe, Who Survived It All".

External links

* [http://www.usmarshals.gov/witsec/index.html U.S. Marshals Service, Witness Security Program]
* [http://people.howstuffworks.com/witness-protection.htm How Stuff Works, US Marshall's Witness Protection Program]

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