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Durbin, Obama Ask Attorney General to Help Immediately Release Funding for Judicial Security

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DURBIN, OBAMA ASK ATTORNEY GENERAL TO HELP IMMEDIATELY RELEASE FUNDING FOR JUDICIAL SECURITY

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting his assistance in immediately releasing $12 million in funding for judicial security that Durbin and Obama had appropriated in this past year's emergency supplemental appropriation legislation. The funding will be used for installation of security systems at the homes of federal judges, protective surveillance at the homes of judges and at courthouses, and for protective intelligence gathering and analysis.

"Following the tragic murders of the husband and mother of Judge Joan Lefkow of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, we met with the Director of the U.S. Marshal Service and worked to provide the money necessary to address some of the shortcomings in judicial security," Durbin and Obama said. "It is shocking that seven months later we are learning that the money has not been used to meet the safety needs of our nation's judges."

In April, Durbin and Obama urged Senate appropriators to adopt the recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States - the principal policy-making body for the federal court system led by then Chief Justice Rehnquist. The Judicial Conference requested that the $12 million to improve security for federal judges be included in this year's Supplemental Appropriations bill. The President signed the legislation into law on May 11, 2005.

"According to news reports, despite Congress's clear intent to use the $12 million to improve security for members of the federal judiciary, much of this money has not been spent, and many judges are being forced to personally foot the bill for their security," Durbin and Obama said. "In fact, Chief Judge Charles Kocoras of the Northern District has said that judges believe that 'there seems to be no urgency to the situation.'"

"We ask that you work to resolve immediately the issues delaying the U.S. Marshal Service's use of these funds and meet the security needs of the members of the federal judiciary."

Below, please find the full text of Durbin and Obama's letter:

December 2, 2005

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

We are writing to ask for your assistance in releasing the $12 million appropriated to address judicial security needs in this year's emergency supplemental appropriations legislation.

Following the tragic murders of the husband and mother of Judge Joan Lefkow of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, we met with the Director of the U.S. Marshal Service and worked to provide the money necessary to address some of the shortcomings in judicial security. It is shocking that seven months later we are learning that the money has not been used to meet the safety needs of our nation's judges.

According to news reports, despite Congress's clear intent to use the $12 million to improve security for members of the federal judiciary, much of this money has not been spent, and many judges are being forced to personally foot the bill for their security. In fact, Chief Judge Charles Kocoras of the Northern District has said that judges believe that "there seems to be no urgency to the situation."

Moreover, according to the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshal Service has not developed the robust infrastructure necessary to monitor and assess judicial security threats and needs. Many of these shortcomings were first identified more than a year and a half ago and still have not been corrected.

We ask that you work to resolve immediately the issues delaying the U.S. Marshal Service's use of these funds and meet the security needs of the members of the federal judiciary.

We stand ready to work with you on these issues to prevent other members of our judiciary from suffering the same tragedy as Judge Lefkow and her family. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Barack Obama
United States Senator

http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=249475&&

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