Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Robert B. Jenkot
WITSEC is the acronym for the Federal Witness Security Program. WITSEC was established by the Organized Crime and Control Act of 1970 in recognition of the government's need to provide long-term protection to witnesses in cases involving organized crime figures and groups (e.g., La Cosa Nostra, or the Mafia). Witnesses needed such protection because these groups had a history of witness intimidation and execution in order to defeat the cases against them. Until 1940, few prosecutions of organized crime figures and groups had been successful. Those who were convicted were usually found guilty of federal income tax violations, cases related to immigration, and cases pursued without witness cooperation. Cases that could be prosecuted only with the cooperation of witnesses, such as those involving extortion, theft, and blackmail, were generally unsuccessful. Another obstacle to the prosecution of members of organized crime groups was the position the FBI took with regard to ...