A recent episode of the online series Today I Found Out took a look at the U.S. Marshall Service Witness Security Program (WITSEC), to what lengths it goes to protect witnesses from dangerous situations that arise because of their testimony and how the WITSEC program has evolved over time.
Once a witness has finished testifying, the family is transported to the new location where they are often put up in a hotel until a suitable home is chosen. Relocated families receive a monthly stipend, along with money for housing and other expenses that are eventually phased out after the adults have had enough time to find new means of supporting themselves. Early on when the program was being developed, many things fell through the cracks. WITSEC marshals often either had to forge documents or simply failed to provide them for everyone; …Today most of the bugs have been worked out, and legally sealed name changes, new social security cards, birth certificates and drivers’ licenses are all routinely issued; in addition, medical and school records are quickly transferred and fake credit histories are created. In sum, since 1971, about 8,500 witnesses and 9,900 family members have been protected by WITSEC, and no one who has followed the program’s guidelines has ever been killed.