Washington, D.C. (August 1, 2013) — Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (both D-MD) introduced the Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2013, legislation that directs the Attorney General to make competitive grants to state and local governments to establish and maintain short-term witness protection programs in cases involving homicides, violent felonies, serious drug offenses, gang related crimes, or organized crime.
“Our criminal justice system is not working effectively when prosecutors are forced to choose between funding costly investigations and protecting witnesses,” said Senator Cardin. “This legislation will help ensure that state and local prosecutors and other law enforcement officials are equipped with the necessary resources to fight this epidemic that is poisoning our communities.”
“Without witnesses, the wheels of justice will come to a screeching halt,” said Rep. Cummings. “Witness intimidation remains a significant challenge in many communities around this nation, including in Maryland. The legislation Senator Cardin and I introduced today would help state and local governments provide the specific kinds of services needed to protect witnesses and ensure they feel safe enough to testify in court.”
The Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2013 (H.R. 2884/S.1418) would provide $150 million in competitive grants — $30 million a year for five years — to state, local and tribal governments to establish witness assistance programs. The bill also requires the Attorney General to collect data and develop best practices from the grantees and report this information back to Congress, States and other relevant entities. The Attorney General is also directed to ensure that, as practicable, grants are given to an equitable geographical distribution of programs throughout the country.