Friday, August 22, 2008

No Lawyers Allowed at Make Shift DNC Jail

If there are mass arrests during the Democratic National Convention, it is where the arrested people will go before bonding out or being taken to jail.

It's being called the Arrestee Processing Site, or APS. It sits in an old city warehouse on the northeast side near 38th and Steele.

9NEWS' cameras were allowed inside the site for the first time on Wednesday.

However, the city of Denver says the APS will also be used for arrests that have nothing to do with the convention.

Some chain-link cells there will hold about 400 people at a time. The city says it will be able to process 60 people an hour.

"I think we will be able to keep up with the pace. I think our capacity is more than enough," said Denver County Undersheriff Bill Lovingier.

The APS is built to replicate what you'd normally see at the city jail. There is a place where they can take mug shots and fingerprints. There is also a doctor on staff and next to the doctor's office is the bonding office.

Lovingier invited the cameras inside on Wednesday to counter activists' claims that the city was trying to hide a secret jail.

Lovingier says he is not worried about people arrested for peaceful civil disobedience.

"We don't anticipate problems with those people, but anytime you plan for an event like this there are also groups out there who may be more violent," he said.

No lawyers are permitted inside the APS. The city says the arrestees can meet with their attorneys when they go to court.

However, the ACLU says that's illegal. The civil rights group also wants assurances that once people post bond, they won't be held for several more hours.

"What's important is that the processing is efficient enough that people aren't unreasonably delayed in their right to post bond, get out of there and answer those questions in court," said ACLU Director Mark Silverstein.

The city may have some legal leeway because it is a temporary facility and will only be there for a week. After that, the warehouse turns into a warehouse again.

"It's actually being sold to somebody, so all this goes away," said Lovingier.

An out-of-state real estate investment firm is buying the property.

The Denver County Sheriff's Department received $500,000 federal tax dollars for DNC security. They are not saying how much of that went into the APS.

The sheriff's department has taken down the razor wire it was using to top off the cells in response to concerns raised by community members and the mayor when the images of the site first went public.

No comments: