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City Council tours interim Juvenile and Domestic Relations facility
The Fredericksburg City Council toured the interim Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courthouse Tuesday night before its regular council meeting.
Presiding Judge David Peterson and Sheriff Paul Higgs led much of the tour and explained the new features and compared them to the former courthouse space on Princess Anne Street.
City staff and members of the First Choice team were also on the tour.
Council viewed the security system, located at the courthouse entrance. It includes a metal detector and an x-ray machine. At the security desk are two monitors where the deputy can view the 13 cameras spaced throughout the building. The cameras all record, and the recordings are good for 30 to 45 days.
In the old J&DR building, there was no x-ray machine and the location of the metal detector meant that a person went through the clerk’s office before being checked. Now, everyone it is checked as they enter the building.
The windows surrounding the lobby of the courthouse are tinted , so that you can see outside from the courthouse, but you can’t see into it.
There are cameras in each of the holding cells, another new security feature.
There is one room for fingerprinting and two interview rooms. The old courthouse had three, but four would be ideal, officials said.
There are also changes to the courtroom itself.
There are also three entrances to the courtroom − one for the public, one for the judge, and one for inmates.
The judge’s bench and the clerk’s area in the courtroom are bigger. The witness stand is also on the opposite side of the room than originally planned, which is more secure because it is now on the opposite side the inmates would come in.
There’s also a TV and video machine which connects the courtroom to Rappahannock Regional Jail and other jails. This saves money since the inmates do not have to be transported in order to testify.
All of the furniture is recycled from the old courthouse.
There are four holding cells, one more than the old courthouse. Each cell has a bench and a restroom in it so that the inmates don’t have to leave their cells under escort in order to use the bathroom. The only way to get in and out of the holding cells area is by key card.
The clerk’s office is much smaller, but the clerk, Ms. Joan Millward, said that the layout improves efficiency. She now has her own separate office, which she says she has never had before. There are two windows for the public to use with the clerk’s office, in case there is a long line. There is also a kitchen area and a separate bathroom for her office to use.
The judge has his own office and his own restroom to use.
Currently, there are three deputies used for security in the interim facility.
The interim space is expected to be used until the new courthouse is complete.