San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris has been selected to testify before the United States Congress House Judiciary Committee Tuesday on improving the safety for witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement to prosecute violent crime.
The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Robert C. Scott (D-Virginia), invited DA Harris to speak on behalf of the nation’s prosecutors.
DA Harris will speak before the Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security at 2:00 p.m. EST in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141.
The problem of witness intimidation has become a state and national epidemic, with witnesses who cooperate with the police and prosecutors targeted for murder and threats of violence against them and their families.
Fear of violence or being labeled a “snitch” silence many eyewitnesses to homicide and violent gang crime. According to recent studies, prosecutors across the country believe that the issue of witnessintimidation is the single biggest hurdle facing any gang prosecution.
Most local and state-level witness relocation programs are temporary, severely underfunded and provide few services to witnesses. In several recent cases, including one in San Francisco, witnesses have left their relocation areas, returned to their neighborhoods and have been killed.
DA Harris will urge the members of Congress to support H.R. 933, the “Witness Security and Protection Act of 2007″ which will direct additional resources to local and state law enforcement agencies to shore up local efforts to relocation and protect witnesses.
The legislation would also establish within the United States Marshals Service a short-term witness protection to provide assistance to state and local prosecutors to protect their witnesses in serious criminal cases. DA Harris will also urge members of Congress to consider funding for more comprehensive, ong-term and victim-centered approaches to witness relocation and protection.