DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings

Sent By: nikki.jones@mail.house.gov

Date: 3/18/2009

Making it safe to speak

Cosponsor the Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2009

DEADLINE FOR ORIGINAL COSPONSORS:

THURSDAY, MARCH 19

Dear Colleague,

In cities across America, people are murdered in broad daylight and their killers are walking free because we cannot adequately address the issue of witness intimidation. We have all heard the news reports regarding the stop-snitching campaigns that have appeared in so many of our communities, but few of us are aware of what these scare tactics really mean to the people on the ground. But all around us, evidence of the campaigns’ impact is present.

There are numerous accounts about civic-minded citizens being threatened with violence or becoming victims of fire bombings or shootings all of which are designed to prevent them from testifying to crimes that they have witnessed. Unfortunately, these tactics are working to form what has become commonly known as the conspiracy of silence. Witnesses are literally afraid for their lives.

Around the country, tight budgets are hamstringing the ability of prosecutors to keep witnesses safe at a time when intimidation on the streets appears to be surging, particularly in gang cases. This is why I am introducing the Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2009, which establishes a competitive grant program that provides state and local law enforcement with the tools they need to provide credible witness assistance programs. Doing so will move us one step closer toward alleviating the fears of and threats to prospective witnesses, and help to safeguard our communities from violence. This issue must be addressed because without witnesses, there can be no justice in America.

For more information, or to become an original cosponsor of this vitally important legislation, please contact Ms. Nikki Jones in my office at (202) 225-4741 or nikki.jones@mail.house.gov. Sincerely,

/s/

Elijah E. Cummings

Member of Congress