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Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | OCTOBER 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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Vote for justice center

There are major security and safety deficiencies at our historic Johnson County Courthouse.

In this November's election, voters can support a $46.8 million bond issue that addresses those deficiencies, proposing a secure Justice Center that combines court-related offices and the Sheriff's Office, with a significantly expanded jail.

The present Courthouse poses serious safety and security threats to the public. Some of the most striking deficiencies include entrances lacking even basic security checkpoints to protect against persons entering with weapons; no separate and secure entrance for deputies escorting criminal suspects; and no way to separate inmates from students, general public, jurors, employees, and judges.

Security is not the only problem. Major safety issues in the century-old Courthouse include hallways and backstairs so narrow they pose a serious threat in case of emergency, no automated sprinkler system, and entrances not accessible for persons with disabilities.

Safety and security are increasingly critical concerns in today's society. As a student at the University of Iowa, I believe this issue directly affects students' safety. Students using the Courthouse — whether for such things as university classes, traffic violations, voting, jury duty, or appealing fines — need to be able to do so in a secure and safe environment.

The proposed justice center would provide important safety/security measures currently lacking, as well as full accessibility for all citizens. These measures include weapon-screening checkpoints at all entrances, standard fire-suppression sprinklers, separation between public and inmates being transported for court hearings, and full accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Johnson County is very fortunate to have avoided incidents of courthouse violence in recent years. It shouldn't take a tragedy for us to remedy these safety concerns.

So on Nov. 6, or whenever you vote between now and then, flip the ballot and vote yes to support the Johnson County justice center. We all have a right to use our justice system in a safe and secure environment.

Drew Lakin
Iowa City resident


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