skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 76412 Find in a Library
Title: Life and Hard Times of the Protected Witness Program
Journal: Police Magazine  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(March 1981)  Pages:50-52,54-57
Author(s): G Mitchell
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 7
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Accomplishments and problems of the U.S. Marshals Services's Witness Protection Program are reviewed through case studies and media exposes.
Abstract: Under the program, endangered Federal witnesses and their families are relocated and given aliases, identification documents, and help in locating employment. However, a substantial number of the 3,500 participants, especially those who were law-abiding citizens, have had their lives ruined by their decision to rely on the Government to protect them. The program has been plagued with problems since its inception. Although the program was formally started in 1971, its real beginning was in 1961 when U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sought a counterweight to the mob's ability to buy off or murder potential witnesses. Witnesses were placed at military bases and then at 'safehouses' -- motels or large Government-owned houses used formerly to house FBI informers -- before the present system evolved. The first 800 witnesses in the program helped make possible some 4,487 indictments and 3,071 convictions. However, by 1975 the program was handling 500 witnesses a year, 10 times as many as the budget had foreseen, and the Marshals Service was given duties previously performed by other agencies. Witnesses were complaining that the Government had broken most of the promises made to them, that documentation was slow or nonexistent, that jobs rarely materialized, and that the marshals were inefficient. Recent efforts to improve the program have concentrated on increasing financing, reducing the number of clients, establishing a 24-hour national hotline, guaranteeing jobs, and providing information to potential clients of what can be expected before their decision to participate has been made. However, a recent manpower study revealed that the program was still badly understaffed. Case histories are cited, and photographs are included. A reference list is not provided.
Index Term(s): Organized Crime Control Act of 1970; Personal Security/Self Protection; Program evaluation; US Marshals Service; Victim-witness intimidation; Witness assistance; Witness protection
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.