State and federal officials admit to “critical deficiencies” in courthouse security and promised to find better ways to protect judges, lawyers, and jurors after violent episodes in Atlanta and Chicago, reports the New York Times. The National Center for State Courts issued a 10-point blueprint for improving courthouse security and scheduled a “national summit” on the problem next month, financed in part by a new $100,000 grant from the Justice Department.
A new Justice Department study raised concerns about the adequacy of federal resources devoted to the safety of more than 17,000 people in the witness protection program. It found that staffing for the program has decreased since 1995 as the number of people in witness protection has increased. The 10-point plan on court security issued yesterday found that many state and local courthouses were not following standard safety measures. The plan cited the need for courthouse personnel to do a better job of assessing threats, getting the most up-to-date equipment, and planning for emergencies. State officials say they often do not receive the help they need from the federal government. “While much money is appropriated to homeland security,” the plan said, “very little is dedicated to state courts.”