Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., today introduced legislation to make witness intimidation a federal crime and to provide grants to help states and local governments better protect people testifying in criminal court.
Mr. Casey has introduced similar legislation before but it has never received a vote. He hopes this time will be different.
"I'm not sure how many people fully understand how big a problem this is for our system of justice," he told Pennsylvania reporters in a conference call Wednesday between Senate votes on unrelated measures. "You can't successfully bring justice to a criminal when there's no witness either because that witness has been intimidated or somehow murdered."
The legislation sets a maximum penalty of 30 years for attempted murder of a witness and a maximum of 20 years for attempting to influence or prevent testimony or to intimidate or retaliate against a witness.
The amounts of the competitive grants and the total cost of the bill haven't yet been determined.