Judge Vowell: Courthouses will be closed if no security

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Judge Scott Vowell, presiding judge for Jefferson County's security committee, said Thursday the county's courthouses will be closed if security is not provided next month.

Judge Vowell made the statement during Thursday's security committee meeting.  He said he will not risk the lives of the jurors if there is no security.

Wednesday, Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale announced beginning Oct. 1, he would pull his deputies from security duties because of a $10 million cut to his budget.  Sheriff Hale had provided security to the courthouses since August when the county commission put 1,000 county employees, including security, on administrative leave without pay to balance its budget without the occupational tax.

Commission President Bettye Fine Collins told Vowell and other county judges the county will look to find funds to bring security officers back to work by October 1st.

Teresa Petelos, the presiding judge in Bessemer, also brought up concerns over Sheriff Hale's plan to shut down the Bessemer jail.  Sheriff Hale said Wednesday he will close the Bessemer jail and transfer inmates to the Birmingham jail by October 1st to save money. Judge Petelos said closing the Bessemer jail will create problems for the court system in Bessemer.