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Security at Banke Justice Center tightened

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

Security has been tightened at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, in Jonesboro, in the wake of what authorities believe is a threat to a sitting judge, and the discovery of contraband materials in the county jail that could possible be used to make a weapon known as a zip gun.

The incident has created a mystery that has the Clayton County Sheriff's Office and staffers in the county's jail on high alert.

A spokesman for Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said an investigation has been launched following the discovery of an allegedly threatening letter, and the contraband items that include: a bullet, a spring, medication and a nozzle, ingredients authorities say could be used to fashion a zip gun.

In addition, deputies discovered a letter that allegedly threatens a judge at the Banke Justice Center, whom they would not name.

"We [ at the Clayton County Sheriff's Office ] are taking unspecified measures to heighten security for all judges, and court services here [at the justice center]," said Clayton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, Deputy Alicia Parkes.

The Sheriff's Office did not release specific information, Monday, on whether the letter and contraband materials are connected, are treating the potential threats with extreme concern.

The mystery began to unfold on Friday, Nov. 19. An inmate notified a correctional officer about the contraband items found in the Clayton County Jail, according to Parkes. "The sheriff's main concern is how the contraband got into the facility," said Parkes. The Sheriff's Office believes that, if the materials were brought into the jail, they may have been brought in by an employee, or a contract worker, she said.

"If this is the case, the sheriff will bring whoever is responsible to the law," said Parkes. She added that this is a serious concern, but until further investigation, everything is open to speculation.

While investigating the contraband materials, the Sheriff's Investigation Unit discovered a letter detailing threats to a judge, Parkes said. On Monday, the Sheriff's Office would not release the name of the judge, the courtroom where the judge presides, or the contents of the letter, because of the ongoing investigation.

Parkes said the Sheriff's Office has reason to believe that the informant/inmate, who alerted corrections officers to the contraband items, may be responsible for the materials, and may have notified officials in hopes of getting a reduced jail sentence.