Who We Are
The Office of the United States Marshals was created on September 24, 1789, with the passage of the Judiciary Act by Congress. The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) was established in 1969 to provide guidance and assistance to U.S. Marshals throughout the nation. The U.S. Marshals Service is a bureau within the Department of Justice and receives direction from the Attorney General through the Director of the United States Marshals Service.
The mission of the U.S. Marshals is to enforce federal laws and provide support to virtually all elements of the federal justice system by providing for the security of federal court facilities and the safety of judges and other court personnel; apprehending criminals; exercising custody of federal prisoners and providing for their security and transportation to correctional facilities; executing federal court orders; seizing assets gained by illegal means and providing for the custody, management, and disposal of forfeited assets; assuring the safety of endangered government witnesses and their families; and collecting and disbursing funds.
Presidentially appointed U.S. Marshals direct the activities of 94 districts — one for each federal judicial district. More than 3,752 Deputy Marshals and Criminal Investigators form the backbone of the agency.
The United States Marshal Service. This is who we are.
Hello, I'm John Walsh, host and executive producer of TV's America's Most Wanted. I'm also very proud to say that I'm an honorary U.S. Marshal. The fascinating job of the U.S. Marshal has been the subject of many Hollywood films and television shows throughout the years. The stories they've told and the pictures they've painted truly do reflect the real-life fortitude and integrity of the brave men and women who wear the star, but there's a lot more to the U.S. Marshals than what we've seen on the silver screen. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the real U.S. Marshals.
Federal Marshals have served our country since 1789. Many times, in unseen, but critical ways. Today, the U.S. Marshal Service is the enforcement arm of the federal courts and is involved in virtually every federal law enforcement initiative.
We hold the oldest law enforcement authority of this country and that's put us at the forefront of our nation's major events. We have always stayed true to our mission. We have also expanded our mission and we embrace those challenges.
U.S. Marshals are presidentially appointed; one for each of the 94 federal judicial districts. Approximately 4,000 deputy U.S. Marshals and criminal investigators form the backbone of the agency. In any given district, state, local and federal law enforcement officers are deputized to assist with carrying out the missions of the United States Marshals Service.
Each of the partnerships we have is not one where the Marshals try to claim credit for the case. Every member of the task force feels like they're equal partners. I think that's one of the great keys to their success.
Our primary charge of protecting the federal judiciary is followed closely by a multitude of high priority missions like capturing violent fugitives and non-compliant sex offenders, selling forfeited assets acquired by criminals through illegal activities, housing and transporting federal prisoners, and operating the witness security program.
The history of the U.S. Marshals truly is the definition of legendary. George Washington appointed the first 13 U.S. Marshals in 1789 upon passage of the Judiciary Act. Just like today, the original U.S. Marshals duties were wide in scope. Beyond enforcing the judicial process, Marshals were responsible for conducting the federal census every 10 years. Marshals were also instrumental in rebuilding the nation after the Civil War by protecting federal polls in the south, and of course the U.S. Marshals played a major role in maintaining peace and order during the establishment of the Old West. Legendary places and names fill the history books during this era. The Marshals were key figures during the Civil Rights era, enforcing educational integration. During this tumultuous time in our history, the U.S. Marshals once again proved to be our nation's finest asset for maintaining law and order.
The mission hasn't changed. We still have the same mission that we had years ago. You know we're not riding horses anymore, but, I think we do a little better now than we did before. I'm very proud to be part of the service.
Like their predecessors, the men and women who wear the badge today carry on the honorable tradition of serving a higher cause. They are selfless, dedicated and unwilling to stop until each case is closed. U.S. Marshal Service positions are earned by those who rise to the top, the elite. Deputy recruits undergo a rigorous 18-week training course at the United States Marshal Service Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia. Training at the academy consists of criminal case investigations, firearms, driving, defensive tactics, use of force and much, much more. Graduates leave the Academy fully prepared to safely and successfully execute the critical missions and operations of a Deputy U.S. Marshal.
Since day one, the U.S. Marshals have upheld the responsibility of protecting the federal judicial process. More than 400 courts operate peacefully day in and day out under the Marshals vigilant watch. Deputy marshals and their court security officers are present during proceedings and provide protection for federal judges, jurors, court officials, prisoners and the visiting public. The deputized court security force managed by the Marshal Service includes more than 5,200 officers. That's equivalent to a force just larger than the Houston Police Department. In a typical year, the Marshals assess, mitigate and deter more than 1,300 threats and inappropriate communications against the judiciary. The Marshal Service is also charged with the protection of the Deputy Attorney General, Supreme Court Justices and the president's drug czar when they travel outside of Washington D.C.
U.S. Marshals apprehend more federal fugitives than any other law enforcement agency. Our deputies arrest more than 330 fugitives a day totaling an average of 123,000 fugitives caught in a year. U.S. Marshals are the world's most renowned experts in tracking down those who attempt to run or hide from the law. A major factor for this is the Marshals unique ability to combine the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement to create task forces specially designed to track down these wanted criminals.
In conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which I helped found in 1984 the, U.S. Marshals also play a very key role in the investigation and apprehension of dangerous and non-compliant sex offenders.
Analysts at the Marshals National Sex Offender Targeting Center provide in-depth psychological insights into the minds of suspects helping investigators identify and apprehend unregistered and non-compliant sex offenders.
One of the best ways to combat major criminal activities is to hit him where it hurts. The U.S. Marshals asset forfeiture program strips criminals of their ill-gotten gains. These assets are managed until their owners are proven guilty. Then upon court order forfeited assets are sold to compensate victims and supplement funding for law enforcement initiatives and community programs. Currently the service manages more than 23,000 assets ranging from real estate, vehicles and vessels, to jewelry, art and even entire businesses. The agency uses private industry practices to ensure assets are managed and sold in an efficient cost-effective manner. In a typical year, 1.5 billion dollars gets redistributed back to victims of crime and their families.
From the time of court-ordered custody to either their acquittal or conviction every federal prisoner is the responsibility of the U.S. Marshals. The service is responsible for the confinement, care and transportation of these prisoners to and from court. In a typical year the marshals receive and housed more than 232,000 federal prisoners in more than 1,800 state and local prisons across the country. This massive undertaking involves providing healthcare to prisoners and the full coordination and transfer of prisoners throughout the criminal justice system.
The U.S. Marshal Service has the unique authority and ability to grant individuals and entire families new identities and the foundations for new lives. WITSEC provides for the safety and health of witnesses whose lives are endangered as a result of testifying against dangerous criminals and their enterprises. 24-hour protection is provided during the trial. It is often followed by secure relocation complete with new identities, housing and employment assistance. Since the program began in 1971 more than 18,000 witnesses and family members have participated. During this time, not a single participant has been harmed while following the programs guidelines. A true testament to the Marshals competence and commitment to protecting the judicial process.
While you might not find first-class or exit row seating, J-PATs is the only government operated regularly scheduled passenger airline in the nation. The U.S. Marshals justice, prisoner and alien transportation system moves prisoners between judicial districts and correctional facilities. As one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world, J-PATs handles almost 600 requests a day. J-PATs requires the precise coordination of detailed itineraries to ensure each prisoner arrives at their destination on time. Through a networked fleet of aircraft, buses and vans, J-PATs moves an average of 120,000 prisoners each year.
When a national emergency strikes, the Marshals turn to their Special Operations Group overseen by the Tactical Operations Division. SOG is a specially trained highly disciplined tactical unit designed to overcome even the worst-case scenario. Members of this elite group are on call 24 hours a day ready to respond to emergencies anywhere in the United States and its territories. SOG is only a part of this diverse division which includes the Marshals communication center, K9 program, mobile command centers and the Office of Strategic technology. Together they advance the overall capabilities of the agency.
In 1789, George Washington first appointed Marshals with the directive to handle all lawful precepts. That term holds true today as the U.S. Marshal Service continues evolving and adding to its extraordinary array of missions. The proud men and women who wear this star continue to write the history of the agency and ultimately help shape and protect our great nation. Carrying on in the legacy of justice, integrity and service. We are the United States Marshals.