On April 29th, Polk County voters will decide whether we should fix the security and safety problems with the current courthouse and to build a facility that is large enough to meet the current demands of Polk County residents. Consider the following facts:
- The current courthouse was built 108 years ago.
- The population of Polk County has increased by over 500% since the courthouse was erected.
- The courthouse was originally built for 4 courtrooms and now consists of 27 courtrooms jammed into every nook and cranny.
- More than 2,000 people enter the courthouse on average each day.
- The number of cases has nearly doubled in the last 15 years and will double again in the next 22 years.
- There are no meeting rooms in the courthouse for attorneys, litigants, witnesses, etc. Lawyers are often forced to meet in the hallway and run the risk of being overheard by jurors.
- Only 1 jury orientation room exists and it is woefully inadequate to hold all the jurors reporting on any given Monday.
- No disablity accommodation exists at the main entrance.
- More people are arrested at the courthouse than any other place in Polk County.
- No security cameras exist in the courthouse.
- No baliffs or law enforcement exist in any of the courtrooms.
- In 2007 deputy sheriffs received over 500 calls for assistance.
- Prisoners, jurors, judges, attorneys and the general public all use the same corridors.
- No temporary jail or holding cell exists at the courthouse.
- The courthouse is not in compliance with fire codes. No sprinklers, no fire detection, no fire stairwells, no smoke evacuation system, etc.
- There is no adequate emergency power system.
- There is a mold problem and ventilation is not adequate.
- Rodent and infestation of cockroaches is a real problem. So bad the basement has been abandoned.
For more information please visit www.buildingforjustice.com. I encourage you to vote "Yes" for a new courthouse. If the facts described above do not persuade you, I implore you to go down to the courthouse and spend some time. Walk around. Make sure you go on a Monday morning. That will give you the best chance to observe the demands on our current courthouse. The need for a better facility is unquestionable.
photo on flickr by Turtlemoon.