WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) introduced legislation to improve protections for witnesses to serious crimes on Tuesday.

The bipartisan “Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2023” will provide funding to ensure the safety of witnesses in criminal trials against threats, coercion or intimidation.

“Our justice system relies on witnesses and others doing the right thing for our communities. Our legislation gives local governments the tools they need to keep these courageous witnesses safe,” Cardin said in a release. “We want to put an end to witness intimidation so we can get violent criminals off the streets.”

Maryland Congressman Kweisi Mfume is helping lead this effort in Congress and introduced the legislation’s companion bill in the House of Representatives.

“While there may be a lot of things that we can do to fight violent crime, I believe protecting witnesses is a major part of our responsibility because so many witnesses and potential witnesses are afraid to come forward with important information. This legislation addresses that fear and witness intimidation,” said Mfume in the release.

If passed, this act would include all cases involving homicides, violent felonies, serious drug offenses, gang-related crimes, or organized crime. It would authorize $150 million ($30 million each year for five years) in competitive grants for state, local and tribal governments that establish or maintain witness protection programs.