From the Desk of Judge Tom D. Bonn – Benefits from the purchase of the WalMart building
Over the coming months I will illuminate the many reasons that I favor the purchase of the existing Wal~Mart store and the remodeling of that facility into a new Judicial Center for Caldwell County. This will be done through a series of articles concerning this new facility.
The first reason I want to address is security for all personnel working in the judicial agencies of
our county. If any resident has ever been into the existing Judicial Center during a trial one of the first things they will witness is the lack of security associated with this building. Prisoners are routinely paraded down the hallways, which are filled with those involved with the trials. The District Attorneys personnel, the District Court personnel, and the District Judges are all exposed to the inmates that are brought in for court hearings.
Unlike properly designed Judicial Centers, there are no holding cells and the prisoners are not segregated away from court personnel or the public that is in the building. An especially concerning issue occurs whenever children are forced to be in the hallways at the same time the prisoners are present. There are no areas to separate the children from the spectacles that occur before and after trials. This is an especially disconcerting situation. Children who are required to be in the building should be taken to a safe area while they await the proceedings involving them or their parents.
In the Judicial Center and the Courthouse, where trials are conducted, there are multiple entrances that are left unguarded. There are no controlled entrances for court personnel or others having to deal with various court hearings or for those that also work in an around the court proceedings. Personnel should be able to enter their offices and work areas without having to wade through lines of prisoners or the public at large. These individuals are some of the first people that could be exposed to threat or put in harms way with our current security level for these buildings.
The taxpayers of Caldwell County owe it to their employees and the employees of the judicial system to provide a safe working environment. Court bailiffs and transport officers are doing the best they can with the buildings we have provided but you will not find one person involved in the security of these buildings that will tell you we have a safe situation for all that are involved in our judicial system.
We cannot wait for a serious injury or a death to occur before we take action in correcting this situation. A similar project was completed in Randall County where they converted a Wal~Mart into a new Judicial Center. Prisoners do not come into contact with the public in their judicial center.
Additionally, in the Randall County Judicial Center they have a state of the security entry point for public access to their building. Prisoners are segregated and the court personnel are not exposed to the prisoners. In our remodel of the Wal~Mart building we can and must design the best security possible for the public and the judicial personnel who are working daily to make our lives safer. If you haven”t been in our current buildings when courts are in session then I invite you to do so or to talk to any worker in these buildings about our current security situation.
In closing I want to say that I personally take the security and protection of our court personnel and judicial system employees very seriously. This is why the lack of proper security is one of the most important reasons why we need a better Caldwell County Judicial Center complex. Greatly appreciated was the unanimous decision by our Commissioner”s Court to make this investment in Caldwell County”s future.