One year ago, Brian Nichols’s rampage at Atlanta’s Fulton County Courthouse left three people dead, including a judge. The incident led to a national soul searching about how to protect courthouses, says the Christian Science Monitor. There still is no national protocol for how to safeguard courthouses, says the National Center for State Courts. To help counties buy necessary equipment and cover other expenses, Congress established grants of $60 million a year until 2010. It also stiffened penalties against those who commit crimes in courthouses, including up to 10 years in prison for making a threat against a judge.
There were nearly 700 serious threats nationwide made against judges in 2005, says the U.S. Marshals Service. Since last year, eight deputies have been fired at the Atlanta courthouse, and new cameras have been hooked up in most areas. More precautions need to be taken, some say. “There’s a great lack of education with these deputies and it’s not their fault,” says Dennis Scheib, an Atlanta attorney. “It doesn’t seem like [county officials] have learned a lot by what has happened.”