A dispute between federal judges and the U.S. Marshals Service over who will pay monthly service fees for home security systems in judges’ homes has helped stall nationwide installation of the devices, the Chicago Tribune reports. Congress appropriated $12 million in May for the installation of the security systems. But the money still has not been released pending resolution of the dispute over who will pay the monthly fees, as well as a delay in selecting a single contractor to install the devices.
The security systems were an urgent priority after the murders of Judge Joan Lefkow’s husband and mother in Chicago and an escaped prisoner in Atlanta apparently killed a state judge, a federal agent, and two other people. Neither the Marshals Service nor the U.S. Judicial Conference could offer an estimate of when installations might begin. In the Chicago area, “a lot of judges didn’t wait and got their own [security] systems,” said Charles Kocoras, chief judge for the Northern District of Illinois. Average fees for a security company to monitor a home intrusion system are about $25 to $30 per month, said Georgia Calaway of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. The Justice Department’s inspector general said the Marshals Service hasn’t fully staffed a clearinghouse that was set up to evaluate threats against the judiciary and appears to have pulled back from involvement with the FBI’s anti-terrorist task forces.