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Hillsborough County Prepares Jail for Protestor Arrests

Among the places getting a facelift in advance of the Republican National Convention is one location that most hope doesn't get a lot of use--Hillsborough County's Orient Road Jail.

Anyone arrested during the Convention will be taken to the facility, where they'll be booked and undergo preliminary court procedures.

Colonel Jim Previtera, the head of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Detention Services, believes the Orient Road facility will be able to handle as many as a thousand arrests next week. But Previtera says it's all going to depend on variables his deputies can't control - like the number and pace of the arrests and the types of crimes.

"Although on the day to day basis, we have limited influence on those variables, for the most part our days are pretty predictable--we can generally predict the number of people we'll book, we can generally predict what our staffing needs will be, we can't do that in this case."

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Detention Services staff worked with the Clerk of the Court and the State Attorney and Public Defender's Offices for 15 months on how the jail will operate.

"It's not business as usual, but we want to be as close to business as usual as possible," said Michael Bridenback, Trial Court Administrator for the 13th Judicial Circuit. "The court needs to be accessible, we have a Constitutional responsibility to provide these services, and so our intent all along, is we designed the special processes to ensure that we could continue to provide that level of service to our citizens and to the individuals who come in contact."

Previtera hopes his staff can process and release people in one to two hours, depending on the number of arrests and how long court takes. The jail will go into operation Sunday night.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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