The Witness Security Program was authorized by the Organized Crime
Control Act of 1970 and amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of
1984. The Marshals Service has protected, relocated and given new identities
to 8,500 witnesses and 9,900 of their family members since the program began
The successful operation of this program is widely recognized as
providing a unique and valuable tool in the government’s battle against
major criminal conspirators and organized crime. Since the program’s
inception, it has obtained an overall conviction rate of 89 percent as a
result of protected witnesses’ testimonies.
Witnesses and their families typically get new identities with authentic
documentation. Housing, medical care, job training and employment can also
be provided. Subsistence funding to cover basic living expenses is provided
to the witnesses until they become self-sufficient in the relocation area.
The Marshals Service provides 24-hour protection to all witnesses while they
are in a high-threat environment — including pretrial conferences, trial
testimonials and other court appearances.
In both criminal and civil matters involving protected witnesses, the
Marshals Service cooperates fully with local law enforcement and court
authorities to bring witnesses to justice or to have them fulfill their
legal responsibilities. A recidivism study found that less than 17 percent
of protected witnesses with criminal histories are arrested and charged with
crimes after joining the program.
No program participant who follows security guidelines has ever been
harmed while under the active protection of the Marshals Service.