Elijah Cummings Reintroduces Bill to Protect Crime Witnesses
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Wednesday reintroduced legislation to award competitive grants to protect witnesses of violent crimes. The Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2018 would provide $150 million in competitive grants -- $30 million a year for five years -- to state, local, and tribal governments to establish witness assistance programs. If passed, the bill -- introduced with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) -- would also require the Attorney General to collect data and best practices from the grantees while ensuring that grants are given to an equitable geographical distribution of programs throughout the country. “Without witnesses who feel safe working with police officers, the wheels of justice come to a screeching halt. We have seen people intimidated and even killed in Baltimore and elsewhere for trying to help bring about justice,” Cummings said. The numbers don’t lie. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, despite the downward trend for violent crimes in the U.S., murder rates have been on the rise in the past two years. “This legislation will help state and local governments provide the specific kinds of services needed to protect witnesses and ensure they feel safe enough to testify in court.” More here.