Court Floor Holding Areas
Short-term prisoner-holding facilities should be close to the courtrooms. While a larger prisoner intake-and-processing facility should be centrally located adjacent to the secured prisoner entrance of the courthouse, multiple temporary holding clusters should be located adjacent to or near the courtrooms. On the court floors, these holding facilities may be located between pairs of courtrooms and serviced by a designated inmate elevator that transports the detainees to and from a central holding facility in the courthouse or nearby jail. When a detainee's case comes before the court, a bailiff or court officer escorts the inmate from the holding area to the defendant's table. In those cases that result in continued detention, the inmate is returned to the central holding area to await transport to the detention facility or jail.
The court floor holding area should consist of a security officer station, holding cells, and entrance vestibule in front of the elevator, and, if possible, attorney/prisoner interview booths. The security station need not be enclosed and should provide the security officer with direct visibility to all areas.
The court floor holding cells are best located between pairs of courtrooms so that one holding area can service two courtrooms. The prisoner circulation system should not interfere with private and public circulation within the facility.
The short-term holding area should consist of a control station, holding cells, and, if possible, attorney/client interview booths. The control station need not be enclosed and should provide the security officer with direct visibility to all areas. The minimum recommended size of a group-holding cell is 100 to 120 square feet. Individual cells, used for segregation of prisoners, should be a minimum of 70 square feet. Non-contact attorney/client meeting booths may also be provided as part of the court floor holding area.
Temporary holding cells should conform to appropriate state and American Correctional standards for lighting, ventilation, heating, and cooling. There should be separate holding facilities for men and women. If these holding areas are co-located, there should be sight and sound separation between the sexes.
The cells should be well-ventilated, well-lighted, and well-maintained. Lighting fixtures and ventilation shafts should be secured in place to prevent their removal and use as weapons. The cells should be equipped with vandal-resistant furniture, such as a bench that extends around the interior wall.
It is not unusual for in-custody defendants to attempt to disrupt court hearings by shouting insults, using abusive language, banging on walls, and flushing toilets. Such noise from court floor-holding cells can easily disrupt court proceedings, cause embarrassment, and intimidate witnesses or jurors. It is critical that the holding area is soundproofed so that no sound from the holding area is heard in the courtroom. If the cells are placed adjacent to the courtroom, sound barrier material should be applied to reduce the transmittal of sound through the dividing wall. Sally port-type doors for each holding cell can serve as a sound lock as well as a security device.
Where separate court floor holding cells are provided for an adult male, juvenile male, adult female, or juvenile female, one of each type at each location will be accessible. Where holding cells are provided, which are not separated by age or sex, at least one cell shall be accessible.
Each accessible cell shall provide an accessible turning space, doors, toilets, lavatories, grab bars, drinking fountains. An exception is allowed for doors operated only by security personnel. Visiting areas, where provided, shall be located on an accessible route and be accessible. Five percent, but not less than one, of fixed cubicles, shall be accessible on both the visitor and detainee sides. Where counters are provided, a portion at least 36 in (915 mm) in length shall be accessible on both the visitor and detainee sides.
In larger courthouses, separate prisoner holding cells should be located adjacent to the courtrooms in addition to the central holding facility located adjacent to the secured prisoner entrance to the courthouse. Court floor holding facilities are best located between pairs of courtrooms and serviced by a dedicated prisoner elevator that transports prisoners to and from the central holding area or prisoner entrance.
The short-term holding area should be accessible by a secure corridor or elevator from the central holding area and should lead directly into a courtroom.
If more than one holding cell is present, there should be a guard station with a security alarm system. The security station should be a minimum of 40 to 60 square feet.
There should be separate holding cells for men and women with sight and sound separation. If juveniles are to be held in a court floor holding area that may also contain adults, maintaining sight and sound separation is important for the protection of juveniles.
The walls and ceiling should be reinforced. Removable drop ceilings should be avoided. The interior finish and toilets should be vandal-proof. A small viewing window on the courtroom door is required.
Every cell should have its own toilet facility. This will eliminate the need for staff to transport inmates to and from toilet facilities. These facilities may be combined washbasin and toilet units constructed of either stainless steel or porcelain. Toilets and drains should be installed along a wall on the corridor side of the holding facility or along an accessible service duct so that repairs can be made from the outside. Drains are necessary for any cell in which toilets are provided.