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Jailhouse Witness Protection Task Force, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2004
35 pages
This report reviews and makes recommendations from the Jailhouse Witness Protection Task Force that will improve the Witness Protection Program.
Protection for witnesses both in and out of custody is a fundamental responsibility for every agency and individual involved in the criminal justice system. However, witness protection is falling into a crisis unable to ensure the safety and security of those persons called on to be witnesses. A task force in Los Angeles County (California) was created to ensure concentrated efforts in seven areas: jailhouse telephone recording and monitoring systems, inmate mobility within the jail, inmate worker issues, classification requests and processing issues, alternative housing and transportation issues, California Witness Protection Program issues, and training issues. Research into these areas uncovered problematic issues and areas that needed improvement. The Task Force created a list of recommendations to protect endangered witnesses. The Task Force also went on to recommend that the Los Angeles County Grand Jury, as part of its duties, monitor the progress of implementing and adopting the recommendations contained in this report. The primary recommendation was the creation of a Witness Protection Unit within the Sheriff's Department that would have sole responsibility and accountability within the Department for the protection, classification, housing, and transportation of the witness. The Unit would also perform eight other primary functions. A secondary recommendation called for of the creation of a standing multi-agency subcommittee of the Board of Supervisors' Countywide Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee to address issues of witness protection through out Los Angeles County. The county jail system remains a dangerous and often lethal place for witnesses who become incarcerated. The need for change has been addressed and now implementation is critical to increase the safety and security of incarcerated witnesses and advance the goals of the witness protection program. Biographies