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Print Version-Initiative To Help Young Witnesses Approved in House


Initiative To Help Young Witnesses Approved in House
Measure Attached to Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization

December 19, 2005

Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)'s legislation establishing a grant program for young witness assistance initiatives passed Saturday in the House of Representatives. It was included in the Conference Report for the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (H.R. 3402). Congressman Capuano's initiative creates a separate grant program at the Department of Justice for state and local juvenile witness assistance efforts.

"We continue to hear stories about young people who are harassed and even harmed because they are willing to speak out about a crime. With the recent rise in violent activity, it is critical that the federal government provide state and local authorities with additional resources to assist young people who try to do the right thing. States and municipalities cannot do it alone," 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.

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.

"We must support those who take a courageous stand against violent crime in their communities. This measure will help state and local officials establish effective programs and expand existing initiatives," Rep. Capuano stated.

The President is expected to sign the legislation this week.

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