Witness Protection Programs

Since 1971, the U.S. Witness Security Program (colloquially known as Witsec or the Witness Protection Program) has relocated individuals whose cooperation with the Department of Justice puts them in mortal danger. Established by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 and amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Witness Security Program emerged to protect witnesses and their authorized family members prior to and following testimony. This entry discusses U.S. witness protection programs and their challenges as well as their international influence on popular culture.

Twenty-four-hour protection is provided to witnesses in a high-threat environment (such as pretrial conferences, trial testimony, and other court appearances). Other security measures are extended to mitigate life-threatening situations on an ongoing basis. Cases typically involve racketeering, drug ...

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