What Is A US Marshal

The US Marshals

The U.S. Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency.

Federal marshals have served the country since 1789, often in unseen but critical ways.

The Marshals Service occupies a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. It is the enforcement arm of the federal courts, involved in virtually every federal law enforcement initiative.

Presidentially appointed U.S. marshals direct the activities of 94 districts — one for each federal judicial district.

Approximately 3,829 deputy U.S. marshals and criminal investigators form the backbone of the agency.

The duties of the U.S. Marshals Service include protecting the federal judiciary, apprehending federal fugitives, managing and selling seized assets acquired by criminals through illegal activities, housing and transporting federal prisoners and operating the Witness Security Program.

The agency’s headquarters is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Judicial Security

Since 1789, the U.S. Marshals Service has been the enforcement arm of the federal courts and has been responsible for protecting the federal judicial process.

The agency ensures the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings at approximately 440 locations in 94 federal court districts and provides protection for federal judges, other court officials, jurors, the visiting public and prisoners.

The Threat Management Center provides a national 24/7 response capability to review and respond to threats against the judiciary.

The Marshals also manage the security for federal court facilities, which is funded by the judicial branch’s court security appropriation. The agency oversees the daily operation and management of security services performed by more than 5,000 court security officers within the 94 U.S. District Courts and 13 circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Fugitive Operations

The U.S. Marshals Service is the federal government’s primary agency for fugitive investigations.

The Service arrests 302 fugitives every day on average.

U.S. Marshals task forces combine the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate and arrest the most dangerous fugitives.

Task force officers are state and local police officers who receive special deputations with the U.S. Marshals. While on a task force, these officers can exercise U.S. Marshal authorities, such as crossing jurisdictional lines.

U.S. Marshals work with the international law enforcement community to apprehend fugitives abroad as well as to seek foreign fugitives living or residing in the United States.

The Marshals provide assistance, expertise and training on fugitive matters to federal, state, local and international agencies.

The U.S. Marshals “15 Most Wanted” fugitive program draws attention to some of the country’s most dangerous and high-profile fugitives. These fugitives tend to be career criminals with histories of violence, and they pose a significant threat to public safety.

Asset Forfeiture

The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program has become a key part of the federal government’s efforts to combat major criminal activity by stripping criminals of their ill-gotten gains.

The U.S. Marshals Service plays a critical role by managing and selling assets seized and forfeited by DOJ.

Proceeds generated from asset sales are used to operate the AFP, compensate victims, supplement funding for law enforcement initiatives and support community programs.

The Marshals Service manages various types of assets, including real estate, commercial businesses, cash, financial instruments, vehicles, jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, vessels and aircraft.

The Marshals manage the distribution of equitable sharing proceeds to state and local law enforcement agencies that participated in investigations leading to forfeiture as well as payments to victims of crime and innocent third parties.

Prisoner Operations

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for the safe and humane custody of more than 220,000 federal prisoners, beginning at the time of arrest and ending when prisoners are acquitted, arrive at a designated Federal Bureau of Prisons facility to serve a sentence or are otherwise ordered released from Marshals custody.

The agency provides housing, medical care and transportation for an average daily population of about 59,000 federal prisoners throughout the U.S.

The Marshals Service brings all individuals arrested on federal offenses before a U.S. magistrate or U.S. District Court judge for their initial court appearances. The court determines if they are to be released on bond or remanded into the custody of the Marshals Service to await trial.

The Marshals Service does not own or operate detention facilities but has agreements with more than 1,800 state and local governments for jail space. Prisoners can also be housed in 15 private facilities or BOP facilities.

Prisoner Transportation

The U.S. Marshals’ Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS) transports prisoners between judicial districts and correctional institutions in the U.S.

JPATS is one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world — handling 810 movements per day on average.

JPATS transports prisoners in federal custody between federal judicial districts to hearings, court appearances and detention facilities.

JPATS operates a network of aircraft, cars, vans and buses to accomplish these coordinated movements.

JPATS operates a fleet of aircraft to move prisoners over long distances more economically and with higher security than commercial airlines.

JPATS is the only government-operated, regularly-scheduled passenger airline in the nation.

Witness Security

The U.S. Marshals Service operates the federal Witness Security Program, sometimes referred to as the “Witness Protection Program.”

The Witness Security Program provides for the security, safety and health of government witnesses and their authorized family members, whose lives are in danger as a result of their cooperation with the U.S. government.

Witnesses and their families typically get new identities with documentation.

The Witness Security Program has successfully protected an estimated 18,400 participants from intimidation and retribution since the program began in 1971.