Prisoner Handling and Circulation

Secure gate leading to vehicular sally port

Every courthouse in which in-custody defendants appear in court should have prisoner holding facilities.

Prisoners awaiting a hearing or trial, or who are in court to appear as witnesses, should be kept apart from the public and staff persons. There should be a secure holding facility within the courthouse in which to temporarily hold in-custody defendants and witnesses while they wait the start of court or their hearing.

Common practice is to have a central holding area normally located in the basement of the courthouse and adjacent to the vehicular sally port where in-custody defendants can be processed and held before and after their court appearance. This is generally supplemented with temporary court floor holding cells immediately adjacent to each courtroom. In small courthouses with only one or two courtroom it may not be necessary to have both the central holding and courtroom holding areas depending upon the volume of in-custody defendants. The need for holding cells and their capacity should be determined at the time of planning and be based upon actual utilization.

Where prisoners must be transported from the jail or other detention center to the courthouse by vehicle, there should be a sally port for the delivery of prisoners. In communities where the jail is adjacent to the courthouse prisoners may be brought to the courthouse by means of a secure walkway or tunnel.