U.S. Federal Judges Asking for Government-Paid Home Security

Three quarters of the nation's 2,200 federal judges have asked for government-paid home security systems that Congress approved last year after the killing of the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday.

The judges had asked that $12 million be set aside for home security after an unemployed electrician broke into the home of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow and shot her husband and mother to death.

Gonzales, speaking to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said 1,600 to 1,700 active and semiretired judges and magistrates expressed interest in the systems.

Meanwhile, the judges called Tuesday for better training for judicial security officers and screening of inmate mail.

The Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking board for federal courts, met for the first time under its new leader, Chief Justice John Roberts.

The judges also approved measures authorizing security equipment and staff for federal probation offices and pretrial services offices that are in buildings away from courthouses.

"The judges, after the disasters of last year and the terrorism problems we have today, are seriously concerned about security," U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan told reporters.

A month after the Chicago killings, a state judge in Atlanta was one of four people killed after an unshackled defendant being escorted into court for a rape trial allegedly stole a deputy's gun and went on a shooting rampage.

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