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Print Version-Rep. Capuano's Amendment To Help Young Witnesses Passes in House


Rep. Capuano's Amendment To Help Young Witnesses Passes in House
Measure Attached to Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization

September 29, 2005

Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)'s legislation establishing a grant program for young witness assistance initiatives passed Wednesday in the House of Representatives. It was included as an amendment to the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (H.R. 3402). The House passed H.R. 3402 by a vote of 415-4. Congressman Capuano's amendment creates a separate grant program at the Department of Justice for state and local juvenile witness assistance efforts.

"All too often, we hear stories about young people who are harassed and even harmed because they are willing to speak out about a crime. State and local authorities should have the tools they need to assist young people who try to do the right thing. My amendment will provide officials with the funding necessary to do just that," stated Rep. Capuano.

Grants may be used to develop and administer a variety of witness assistance programs including:

  • Counseling services for young witnesses dealing with the trauma of observing a violent crime;
  • Pre- and post-trial assistance for young witnesses and their families;
  • Educational services for young witnesses who are removed from or change their school for safety concerns;
  • Protective services for young witnesses and their families when a serious threat of harm from the perpetrators or their associates is made;
  • Community outreach and school-based initiatives that stimulate and maintain public awareness and support

The measure establishes a four-year authorization for the grant program with an appropriation of $3 million for each fiscal year from FY 2006 to FY 2009. Rep. Capuano first filed legislation to protect juvenile witnesses in 1999 after learning about a young boy forced into hiding when he told authorities about a crime he witnessed.

"Unfortunately, we continue to hear about young people who suffer as a result of doing the right thing. We must support those who take a courageous stand against violent crime in their communities. States and municipalities cannot do it alone. These grants will create a funding mechanism to help officials establish effective programs and expand existing initiatives," Rep. Capuano stated.

The Senate is expected to consider H.R. 3402 sometime this Fall.


Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208

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