10 Harrowing Accounts Of Life In The Witness Protection Program

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pixabay

1. YOU BASICALLY FEEL LIKE A CAGED ANIMAL

“Being in this program is hard because you’re isolated. You can’t see your family. You have to cut loose your friends. You basically feel like a caged animal. I feel my life is still in danger. I will always have to look over my shoulder.”

Nancy

beetlejuice

2. WE FEEL LIKE WE’RE IN A NIGHTMARE

“We feel like we’re in a nightmare. We’re trapped, isolated, we haven’t been allowed to work, we haven’t been able to function properly. So everything that we had is now gone.”

Steve

beetlejuice

3. I’M BEING PUNISHED WORSE THAN MY RAPIST

“I couldn’t give anyone my phone number. I had to be careful. I couldn’t phone my mum and say ‘Oh mum, they’ve moved me’. I wasn’t allowed to do that. From being around the corner from your kids to being hundreds of miles away from them. It’s not nice. How to explain that to your kids?…It’s not glamorous. You don’t get put in a nice big house somewhere and get loads of money in your bank. That’s what a lot of people think that happens when you go into something like this, but you just don’t….My sentence, my punishment that I’ve had to live with for the last few years, is worse than what [my rapist] had to do. In jail you get to see your family. You get to have family visits every week. I didn’t see my parents for ages….I only got to see my kids for a few hours.”

Carla

beetlejuice

4. I’M IN IDENTITY LIMBO

“It’s not like the movies. They do not give you money. They do not set you up and help you out. I see us more as being dumped….It seems like we’ve fallen through the cracks. I want a passport. I want a birth certificate. I want to be able to go to Mexico on vacation. I want to be able to get my marriage license in Yellowstone County. It’s just been nothing but problems. I’ve always felt like I’m in identity limbo. My Social Security number isn’t my Social Security number. My name isn’t my name and there’s no way to be who I really am….I’ve never heard of anybody being happy in the program.”

Jackie

beetlejuice

5. YOU HAVE NO PAST

“Once you have located an apartment, it is very difficult to get an apartment because you have no past. You have no banking account. You don’t exist. You are going to lie on the form, and you are going to say that you are from out of state and nine times out of 10, even if they check, you are going to give a bad phone number, it’s not going to come back right. They ain’t going to get no history on you….I was flying out of Chicago once and I got on the plane and saw two hit men get on right after me. One guy looked at me, he couldn’t believe it either. He was in a state of shock. They sat five seats in back of me. And I got off that plane, went back inside and stood behind a pole. They followed me off the plane and I could hear them talking. One guy was telling the other guy, ‘Forget about it. Let’s get back on the plane.’ And they left. That was close—I could have gotten whacked.”

Frank

beetlejuice

6. IT MAKES ME SICK

“Once in police custody, every promise these people made as far as being safe after being relocated and how long we would be in a safe house has all been a lie. Once you are at the mercy of them and the state’s funds you are stuck. We will not get new names and they even took our vehicle and they’re telling us that whatever money they do give us we have to spend within two days while they are they doing the relocation so there’s no value shopping. They supervise everything with the money they give you. It’s like you feel like you’re the criminal once you’re stuck dealing with them because that’s the way they treat you. As I speak, we are stuck in a safe house and until the state has the funds to put us in a normal house, we are stuck here, kids and all. This is sad. This what you get for helping the police. It makes me sick.”

Anonymous

beetlejuice

7. THEY WILL TRY TO DESTROY YOU

“A witness is generally given a standard allowance. You get between $1500 and $2000 dollars a month, living expenses. They give you $5000 dollars to buy a car. They give you $6000 dollars for the furniture for your place. They pay for your medical, your dental, they pay for everything. This is another tool that they use to keep you in line in case they need you to testify in something else. So if they don’t have…fifty years hanging over your head…then they have this little bit of money that they use hanging over your head. ‘You get out of line, we take your money away.’…The majority of people who cooperate aren’t really doing it willingly….I was afraid at some point in time more of the people who were supposed to be protecting me than the people who were trying to kill me, because they will leave you out to dry in a hurry….They will set you up with the apartment, they’ll give you the funds you need to start living and then overnight they’ll call you up one day and say, ‘I’m sorry, your funding has been cut.’ … They will try to destroy you [when] you try to make progress in your life.”

Tony

beetlejuice

8. YOU SUDDENLY FIND YOURSELF BEING FORCED TO LIVE A LIE

“Without this program, my two daughters and I would be dead. There is no question about it. But in giving up our pasts we paid a heavy price, because what you are as a person is based on where you came from and the people who love you. If you are honest, you suddenly find yourself being forced to live a lie, and you feel ashamed, even though you did the right thing in testifying, because you are now being forced to lie by your circumstances. You are not a criminal, but you are treated like one and made to act like one.”

Anonymous

beetlejuice

9. THIS IS THE HARDEST EXISTENCE I CAN FATHOM

“I did not leave my friends and loved ones willingly….Short of a jail cell, this is the hardest existence I can fathom. Imagine sitting in a Sleepy 8 motel room for months when your only social contact is the Domino’s delivery man. Since January, I think I’ve lived in six cities, give or take. Last week, after the settlement, I saw my girlfriend for the first time in almost four months. We were allowed to embrace for 15 minutes, with six federal marshals standing nearby.”

Anonymous

beetlejuice

10. I WAS SUPPOSED TO DISAPPEAR

“The fact is that twenty-three years ago I went into the Federal Witness Protection Program. I was supposed to disappear. I was supposed to change. I had to. I didn’t. I honestly thought my life was over and I had to live like a schmuck. I accepted it. I really did, but only for a little while. That revelation didn’t last. It was like trying to stop a train, an out-of-control train. I was so used to this lifestyle; I mean, I couldn’t sit still. They (the feds) expected me to just accept my role. Well, one you did what I did for so long, you are conditioned to hustle, to find the loopholes and scores, the excitement and danger. I just couldn’t shake that—not even close.”

Henry TC mark

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