Adventures in Safety

Adventures in Safety

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors at a meeting April 4 approved an additional $113,000 for a sally port for loading and unloading prisoners at the county courthouse on East High Street, bringing its total budget to $463,000. The proposal was brought to the table by Sheriff Edgar S. Robb and Commonwealth’s attorney James L. Camblos, III.

Is the $463,000 prisoner loading dock for the Albemarle County Courthouse a last hurrah for Albemarle Sheriff Ed Robb, the safety-conscious guardian of the citizenry who’s retiring after this year?

According to the two titans of terror prevention, the sally port would keep sheriffs from having to escort prisoners “through the unsecured, open area of a public street.” Camblos and Robb argued that without additional funds for an improved design, inmates themselves were left open to potential attacks—from the families of victims or, heck, evildoers in general.

The sally port continues Sheriff Robb’s fight against terror through the method of covering stuff with other stuff. For more in this genre, see Robb’s 2005 proposal for a camouflage jersey cover for the regional jail to protect it from the terror threat, at a cost of $60,000. Is the sally port a last hurrah for this safety-conscious guardian of the citizenry, who’s retiring after this year?

Apparently wooed by the dangers of letting prisoners see sky between cruiser and courtroom, the supes provided the $113,000 for security upgrades, including a tunnel to the courthouse entrance.

The project would also prevent prisoners from being escorted along a current breezeway that includes windows to staff offices. “It is felt that the view of prisoners walking past these windows would be unsettling to the attorneys and to those in the conference room, particularly victims that are being interviewed,” the proposal states.

If close proximity is at issue, the entire Court Square block, where prosecutors, defense attorneys and cons commune—a virtual Jerusalem of lawyerly conflict—should be infused with hidden pepper-spraying portals in the bricks to immobilize a possible uprising amongst these three disparate communities. Costly, perhaps, but what price is too great for peace of mind?

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