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Show me the money

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* There appears to be a real need for this program

State lawmakers are considering legislation that encourages witnesses to cooperate more with police. The bill that already passed the House would provide more funding to protect, and in some cases, relocate witnesses of gang-related crimes. […]

Law enforcement officials say their investigations are often hampered by witnesses who are reluctant to testify. Yet some programs designed to coax them into working with prosecutors can barely keep up with demand.

“I could double the staff and keep everybody busy all the time,” said Lori Smith, head of Cook County’s victim witness assistance unit. “Every year funding shrinks and we are always subject to what’s going to happen with the county budget.”

Smith said last year the unit had 52 employees handling about 13,000 cases. […]

A similar witness protection program was launched in 1996 and administered by the Illinois State Police. The state appropriated $666,000 for the Gang Crime Witness Protection pilot program, but two years later the program was eliminated due to lack of funding.

No doubt, this is a good idea.

But the actual bill doesn’t “provide more funding.” It merely creates a new fund and specifies how the cash will be distributed, if there ever is any cash.

Unless and until there’s an official appropriation, or unless the controlling agency somehow finds some grant money, this bill means nothing. It’s just a well intentioned feel-good measure, which is why it passed unanimously.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments
  1. - Been There - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    If they pass the gaming bill there are provisions for counties with slots at their race tracks to get a percentage of the taxes to be used for their criminal justice system or health care systems. I think this program would qualify.


  2. - RonOglesby - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    It may help with some witnesses, but then again the “no snitching” culture isnt just about witness intimidation.

    and as noted above… it isnt like money is actually going to go there unless its in the law.


  3. - cassandra - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 11:32 am:

    We need to get rid of the illegal drug trade. This program, if funded, might help on the periphery but eradicating this menace, enormously profitable to some, is the real challenge. Prosecutions are only part of the effort and the political response to doing something productive has been weak.


  4. - Geneva Guy - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    What Cassandra said with the caveat that I think we can probably start and stop with just legalizing marijuana. I don’t want to live in a society where one day my daughter and her friends can stop by a gas station to pick up a pack of Marlboro Heroin Lights.


  5. - cassandra - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 12:21 pm:

    I agree with the marijuana part. Two states have already legalized it, I believe, and are working on pricing and other implementation issues. It would be nice if Illinois would accept the inevitable sooner and reap the benefits, a big tax windfall, instead of plundering the pensions of elderly retirees.


  6. - shore - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    gangs around the country have been incredibly successful with their, no joke, stop snitching-and that’s verbatim word of mouth campaign in areas where they operate. Many cities have been fighting this or trying to for years and it’s disappointing that it’s taken this long to figure out what other law enforcement units around the country have been working on for awhile.


  7. - Blake - Tuesday, Apr 30, 13 @ 6:10 pm:

    If someone goes into witness protection, who decides where they will go? Will it be in Illinois? Does the government get that person a job & some way to keep their prior whereabouts secret from future employers?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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