SAN ANTONIO - Secret tunnels and hidden elevators are the stuff of story books, but it's reality in downtown San Antonio. News 4 San Antonio got an inside look at an intricate web of security inside what's called the 1.5 Section.
The facility got its name because it is a jail located between the first and second floors in the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center, in an area that is not accessible to the public. Hundreds of inmates are booked in the facility on a daily basis before their scheduled court appearances. The facility has four elevators and hidden hallways which lead directly to courtrooms in the Justice Center. Those secure routes keep inmates from ever being around members of the public, which could be a potential safety risk.
"We don't want the public to get the wrong impression or the inmates to get a little violent or aggressive while they are out in public and cause problems for us," explained Sgt. Rudy Castillo.
Section 1.5 has separate areas for female and male inmates and individual cells for inmates in "administrative segregation," a higher security area for inmates who are a security risk. Gang members and former gang members are kept in that area for their protection.
"Our officers are very well trained and they are very professional. They work here, they work long hours," explained Sgt. Castillo, before he was interrupted by an inmate banging loudly on his metal cell door. "Sometimes we get a little problem like we're having now, but we take care of this."
Deputies don't take any chances with security, so they lead shackled inmates across a blocked off street to the old courthouse for civil court hearings, like child support cases. Inmates are housed in a smaller secure facility in the old courthouse before being taken back to Section 1.5. No inmates stay overnight, and at the end of every day, inmates are taken back to the main jail or the jail annex. Then the cycle begins again the next morning.