Jeffco courts will not close due to security

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - There will be no shutdown of Jefferson County Courthouses. Wednesday is the last day deputies will work security at courthouses in Birmingham and Bessemer. Sheriff Mike Hale is pulling deputies because the county commission cut his budget by $10 million. Presiding Court Judge Scott Vowell had threatened to shut down the courts without security. "We cannot bring people into the courthouses without security." Vowell said.

Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Anne Marie Adams plans to give the county thousands of dollars out of a state account, the Restitution Recovery Fund, to bring back 18 security guards off of administrative leave without pay. Still, the courts will lose five deputies who patrol county courts. "We will lose the extra security for our courts. I've talked with judges. They are going to share their bailiffs, pick up the slack there," Vowell said.

The Bessemer Bar Association questions the security measures of the courts. Bar President Tommy Tucker says cutoff attorneys oppose Sheriff's Hale's plan to remove all county prisoners out of Bessemer to Birmingham. "Our understanding of the constitution, the sheriff is supposed to operate a jail in the cutoff as well as the Birmingham division, "Tommy Tucker, President of the Bessemer Bar said.

The bar has passed a resolution asking for District Attorney Arthur Green in the Cutoff to see if Hale violated a law which calls for a jail in Bessemer."If he closes the jail, someone should look at it to see if they violated the law."Tucker said.

Hale spokesman, Lt. Randy Christian says the Sheriff checked with his attorneys before making the decision to transfer the inmates. Christian says because of budget cuts, Hale had little choice. "We had the choice to protect them or keep the jail open for the inmates and criminal attorneys. That was an easy choice to make," said Christian.