WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today introduced bipartisan legislation in the United States Senate, the Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2023, to better protect and support witnesses to serious crimes who are willing to come forward and testify in criminal trials. This legislation will provide funding to ensure adequate protections are in place to protect against the impacts of threats, coercion, or duress against witnesses (i.e., the “stop snitching” culture).
“Our justice system relies on witnesses and others doing the right thing for our communities. Our legislation gives local governments the tools they need to keep these courageous witnesses safe,” said Senator Cardin. “We want to put an end to witness intimidation so we can get violent criminals off the streets.”
Congressman Kweisi Mfume (MD-07) is co-leading this effort in Congress and today introduced the legislation’s companion bill in the House of Representatives.
“While there may be a lot of things that we can do to fight violent crime, I believe protecting witnesses is a major part of our responsibility because so many witnesses and potential witnesses are afraid to come forward with important information. This legislation addresses that fear and witness intimidation,” said Congressman Mfume.
Witnesses are a vital component of the criminal justice system and perform an important public duty by providing judges with facts, observations, information, and other forms of evidence crucial to keeping our communities safe. Too often, criminals and their accomplices seek to silence witnesses by way of physical violence, threats, and other means of intimidation.
Topline Highlights of Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act
Authorizes $150 million ($30 million each year for five years) in competitive grants for state, local, and tribal governments that establish or maintain witness protection programs.
Includes all cases involving homicides, violent felonies, serious drug offenses, gang-related crimes or organized crime.