Here’s What It’s Really Like To Enter The Witness Protection Program

November 20, 2019 posted by


You’ve probably seen a mob
movie or two in your day. But chances are,
you have no idea what it’s actually like to be
part of the Witness Protection Program. A highly secretive program, the
United States Federal Witness Protection Program
protects witnesses before, during, and after
a criminal trial. Today, we’re exploring what
it’s really like in the Witness Protection Program. But before we get started,
be sure to subscribe to the Weird History Channel. Oh, and that’s just not enough. Leave a comment and
let us know what topics you would like to hear about. OK, cut all ties to
life as you know it and join us as we
go full Henry Hill. [MUSIC PLAYING] The Witness Protection
Program, a.k.a. the Witness Security
Program, WITSEC, is a joint venture of the
US Department of Justice and the United States Marshal
Service started in 1970. After accepting
someone into WITSEC, professionals moved the
person to a secret location or safe house. A family-friendly
organization, WITSEC agents also relocate the person’s
immediate family members to avoid potentially dangerous
situations or retaliation. This includes spouses,
children, and sometimes extra-marital partners. Everyone in the family or group
must attend an orientation to learn about the program. Think of it like a
fun family outing that involves life or death
rules and regulations. All previous debts must be paid. Damn. No way to escape
those student loans. Changing your entire
identity is not a get out of debt free card. Everyone that enters the program
must resolve their legal debts before taking the
new life plunge. This is imperative so that banks
and collection agencies won’t attempt to track them down. In addition to paying
debts, WITSEC participants must also be required to submit
to psychiatric evaluations, a criminal background check,
and a resolute commitment to providing testimony. Once the agency has
calculated the risk, it may decide that
the group does indeed require lifelong protection. No one said WITSEC
was easy or glamorous. The litany of rules
is enough to bog down anyone, let alone someone
in the throes of uprooting their entire life. And while the countless
rules may seem daunting, two in particular are
absolutely crucial for safety. One, participants can’t contact
family members or friends outside of the program. So if you want to send your
second cousin a birthday card, sorry, dude. You’d be out of luck. The second, participants
can’t ever, ever, ever return to their
former communities, not even for their second
cousin’s birthday party. WITSEC participants don’t
just change their names. They start their lives over
with completely new identities. They receive new
identifying documents, including driver’s licenses,
passports, birth certificates, and even school records to
validate the new identities. It’s like being a secret
agent, except much more boring. As far as name changes
go, agents typically encourage individuals to
choose the same first name, or at least an option when
the same first initial of their former names. The explanation is
shockingly simple. It’s easier to
remember to answer to a name that sounds familiar. Those in WITSEC are
required to move far, far away from their
original homes. Participants don’t
ultimately get to choose their new destination. If they did, there
would probably be a ton of Witness Protection
participants in Hawaii. But luckily, those
in the program are allowed to narrow
down the options based on a selection of
pre-approved locales. To help further
secure the relocation, only a few government agents
even know the final destination where you end up. If you’re in the Witness
Protection Program, get ready for pay day. Well, not a huge payday, but
a little something to get you started. The agents in charge of
WITSEC provide participants with a stipend. The money specifically
helps those in the program achieve stability
and secure work after entering into
their new lives. Participants will
receive a living wage based on their
previous location, and sometimes even vouchers
for living expenses. The money eventually
stops rolling in after a certain
point, so don’t think you can start
whistleblowing on crimes in order to receive
a huge payday. Also, none of the money depends
on the person’s testimony or value to the legal system. [MUSIC PLAYING] WITSEC creators
initially believed participants should
receive armed protection at all times like some kind
of government-funded Beyonce entourage. However, that was obviously
a costly endeavor, and the constant
presence of agents made witnesses
stand out even more. Total anonymity proved
to be more impactful, and that meant
not being followed by a gaggle of
security officers. Program members only
get constant protection around their trial period
or during other particularly dangerous times. When they do get
continuous protection, it consists of a 24/7
security detail, specialized transportation, temporary
housing, and guarded escorts. [MUSIC PLAYING] You can’t just join WITSEC and
then ghost on the government completely. WITSEC agents check in
with program participants, sometimes as often
as once a week, kind of like a needy mom that
just wants to know how you are. In addition to a generic
check-in tabs-keeping process, WITSEC agents can provide
emotional support for witnesses as they integrate into
their new communities. Some of the people in the
program are career criminals, so they require
assistance to acclimate to the change in circumstance. Sometimes, the WITSEC
agents are the only person they’ll know from
their old life. That can be an invaluable
genuine human connection for someone in the throes of
an entirely upended world. Criminals that
become part of WITSEC avoid prison sentences
through testimony about previous activities to
aid ongoing investigations. Sometimes, however,
they have to serve time for unrelated offenses. The Federal Bureau of Prisons
has special WITSEC facilities to separate witnesses from
the general population. This keeps them relatively
safe until they’re released from prison. Some program participants
find themselves unable to cut off ties with
their old lives completely. In many instances, the
isolation is maddening. If someone opts to
leave the program, the agents don’t prevent
them from doing so. However, all protective
services immediately go away, and you become vulnerable to
whatever dangerous retaliation you were hoping to escape
in the first place. Between changing your profession
to saying goodbye to friends and family forever, entering
the Witness Protection Program is no easy task. And while the number
of participants is a lot lower than you’d expect
based on how many pop culture references WITSEC gets,
you may know someone right now who’s in the program. What do you think of life in
the Witness Protection Program? Let us know in the
comments below. And while you’re
at it, check out some of these other videos
of Our Weird History. [MUSIC PLAYING]

30 Comments

30 Replies to “Here’s What It’s Really Like To Enter The Witness Protection Program”

  1. Calin Lindberg says:

    wow im early

  2. I A says:

    Love these vids, also does anyone know how you become a narrator like the guy in the vid

  3. Tall Dwarf says:

    The life of 69 for the remainder of his natural life.

  4. Water Sheep says:

    I have big peepee

  5. okmia says:

    notification squad, wya

  6. Jason G says:

    Iโ€™m so early that I forgot to use my fake witness protection account

  7. Bron James Bron says:

    69 is forever protected…

  8. Weird History says:

    If you had to be in WITSEC, what would be the hardest thing to leave behind?

  9. swgeezer says:

    I think some of the witnesses in Trump's impeachment are starting to look into this, while Trump is still at large.

  10. William Kirkoff says:

    Wow I'm super early. Cool!

  11. Samar Thakur says:

    So what happens after the case is over?

  12. Solomon says:

    yo viewer request here, you should do African history, the super rich empires and stuff. ๐Ÿ˜

  13. Loser Man says:

    Romans

  14. Nba Fan Gloom says:

    A video on Adolfo Constanzo!

  15. Hat Ink says:

    You guys should do a video on coppa. People need to hear about this.

  16. Created by Nemanja says:

    Send this to 69

  17. Michael Alexander says:

    4:24 "Like some sort of government-funded Beyonce entourage"

  18. Chosen One says:

    You mean a collection agency has the ability to find someone who is in witness protection?

  19. Water Sheep says:

    Everybody who watched this video is clearly big peepee and BIG BRAIN!

  20. Trinity Williams says:

    Woahhhh

  21. [INSERT NAME HERE] FARHAN RAHIM says:

    Fakkkiu ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜š๐Ÿ˜—๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

  22. projectbrain says:

    Waiting for the 6ix9ine comments

  23. Mystical Pineapple says:

    Best NARRATOR ever hehehe ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

  24. Nayu Uzu says:

    I mean, I already kind of wanna leave my current life behind but not to that degree

  25. Planet Art says:

    This is nothing like madea

  26. Mystical Pineapple says:

    Video suggestion: something todo Australia ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ

  27. 11B10 Inf says:

    It's better not to be a criminal to begin with.

  28. Jon S says:

    "What do you think of life in the Witness Protection program?"

    I think it's….um…something that I have no experience with and couldn't express a valid opinion.

    I lowkey feel like this video was sponsored by organized crime to get people to out themselves with their answer to that question!

  29. Camren Davis says:

    Could you do a video on the life of a Chinese emperor?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *