It was started under the Organised Crime Control Act of 1970 and was the idea of the Justice attorney, Gerald Shur. The U.S Witness Security Program began its operation in 1971 and successfully protected more than 18,000 people.
About the Witness Protection Program
The membership of the security program is for life. Some of the witnesses take time to decide to choose the program or not, while some of them are forced to choose it rather quickly. The protection of the family members of the witness is also involved in the Witness Protection Program. It typically covers the safety of the lives of the spouse and children. However, they are sometimes made to leave everything behind, including parents, assets, siblings, and identity – to participate in the Witness Protection Program. It is like an impossible decision to take as both ways you will end up losing your life.
How does the Witness Protection Program work?
- Once the witness has chosen to go with the Witness Protection Program, then they are made to relocate along with the families, but only in few cases.
- The location chosen by the Witness Security Program’s marshal is only disclosed to only a few people within the program.
- The witness and the family members are given new identities.
- And once the testifying process is done, the family, along with the witness, is transported to a new location.
- They are made to stay in a hotel for as long as a suitable home is chosen for them.
- Such families receive a monthly stipend, along with required money for housing and other expenses until the adults in the family have found something to support themselves.
Difficulties faced during the initial stage of the program
When the WITSEC was at its initial stage, then, many faults were falling off through its cracks. The marshal faced difficulties in forging the documents and sometimes failed to provide new documents for everyone. Thus, the witnesses and the families faced a lot of difficulties in their future.
Also, now there are set limits on the expenses that are to be paid to the witness, but during WITSEC’s developing stage, this policy was quite painful. It was because WITSEC was not paying for the essential expense but also the unnecessary expense of the witness’s families.
However, most of the problems have been worked out by now. The witnessed get legally sealed changed names, security cards, birth certificates, and driver’s license. Along with the medical and school records of the family and a quick fake transfer and history story is created.
From 1971, the Witness Security Program saved the lives of 8,500 witnesses and 9,900 family members, and also no one who followed the guidelines properly was never got killed. However, not everyone gets successfully transitioned into the Witness Security Program. For example – In 1980, Henry Hill testified against his associate in the Lucchese crime, and then he was placed in the Witness Security Program along with his wife and two kids. But he had difficulties in adjusting as he has to relocate for around 10 times.