MAXIMUM SECURITY (Senate - August 11, 1995)

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Mr. GRAMS. Mr. President, there is a new Federal facility in the town of Florence, CO--about 100 miles southwest of Denver--that I wish to tell you about.

It was dedicated only last January, without a lot of fanfare, and most people have probably never heard of it. But if you are invited for a visit, it is a request you cannot refuse, and an experience you will likely never forget.

This new complex is the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility--or the Super Max, for short--and already, it has become known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies.

It is a place where the guests check in, but they do not check out, at least not on their own.

The Super Max is the most secure prison in the Nation. A $60 million, state-of-the-art, high-technology fortress of steel, concrete, and barbed wire.

It is where the worst of the worst are shipped to when society decides they can no longer be tolerated. It is a place where these most violent offenders are strictly controlled. It is a place where everyone is watched; where everyone is monitored.

To call the Super Max cold and unfriendly would be a profound understatement. Visitors to the highest-security prison in the Nation first notice the fences--12-foot fences crowned with razor wires. They see the six guard towers, and the rolls of razor wire, and the armed guards who are not only authorized to use their weapons, but are instructed to shoot to kill.

To enter the facility itself, the walls of which are reinforced with seven layers of steel and cement, visitors must pass through metal detectors. Their hands are stamped with a secret code in ultraviolet dye--that is to keep inmates from escaping by impersonating visitors.

Mr. President, this is what you will find in a prison that has been labeled `the end of the line' for the Nation's hardcore offenders.

You might think that the incredible security measures undertaken at the Colorado Super Max would be unique among Federal facilities. After all, where else except a maximum security prison, home to some of society's most malicious predators, would such intense restrictions need to be in effect?

If you thought that, however, you would be wrong. There is another Federal compound with a security arrangement that is equally complex. There are armed guards with dogs, cement barriers, an extensive network of closed-circuit TV monitors, marked and unmarked pursuit vehicles, metal detectors and x ray scanners, signs, and barricades.

But the guests who spend time in this Federal complex are not Mafia bosses, they are not convicted spies, hit men, drug kingpins, or arms smugglers. They are not dangerous, either, and they certainly do not deserve the intense security measures they are subjected to.

They are average Americans who come here, to the U.S. Capitol Building, to see their Government at work and visit us, their representatives in Congress.

And look how we greet them--not with signs of welcome, but with security arrangements which rival those of the Super Max, the most security-conscious prison in America.

Mr. President, earlier this week, my staff made an informal survey around the Capitol and the Senate office buildings. We wanted to see this place through the eyes of a tourist, one of the 15 million Americans who visit us every year.

And what we found was shocking and disappointing: 27 armed police officers, one with a dog, patrolling the grounds, checking identification, and searching car trunks; 33 retractable traffic barriers, designed to allow only certain vehicles access to Capitol Hill parking areas; 26 portable concrete barricades--when these are in place, no vehicles can get past; 34 portable traffic signs, labeled `Stop' or `Do Not Enter'; 4 permanent guard boxes staffed with armed sentries; police cruisers, marked and unmarked; dozens of metal racks stamped `U.S. Government' blocking areas of the Capitol terrace once open to visitors; yards of rope, limiting access between sections of the Capitol grounds; yards of yellow tape reading `Police Line--Do Not Cross'; and perhaps ugliest of all, 758 enormous, round, concrete barricades thinly disguised as flower pots, rimming the entire Capitol complex.

That is just outside. Once inside our buildings, tourists will find: Checkpoints at 20 entrances where their handbags and personal belongings are analyzed by x ray scanners.

A battery of 30 metal detectors through which visitors must pass. If metal is found--and often it is, but mostly keys and coins--our guests are subjected to an embarrassing search with a hand-held metal detector--a search I have heard many women complain about.

There were 9 plainclothed officers, guarding the entrances to the House and Senate floors and visitors galleries; uniformed police officers--58 of them the day we checked--armed with guns and batons, watching everyone; and a video surveillance network that watches everyone, too.

Mr. President, that is how we welcome visitors to their own Capitol: not with open arms, but by daring them to come.

And just what are we trying to say to the American people when the battery of security measures used to control them as tourists rival the harsh measures used to control the most dangerous prisoners at the Nation's highest-security prison?

What are we afraid of, Mr. President? Terrorists? Unfortunately, these security arrangements--many of which have been upgraded in the wake of the tragic bombing in Oklahoma City--would have little effect against a well-planned terrorist attack. I am afraid that we are perhaps using the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing as an excuse to further restrict the access of average Americans to their government, and if we are, well, that is wrong.

Who suggested such an unwarranted assault on our visitors? Who put such a gestapo plan into effect? And most importantly, who in the administration or here in the Senate approved such a plan to barricade Capitol Hill, adding hundreds of new, armed guards?

Let me just say how much respect I have for the men and women of the Capitol Police force, and for the incredible effort they put forth each and every day. As individuals, and as a department, they have and deserve our deepest thanks.

My concerns are not directed at them. I want to quote Sgt. Dan Nichols, spokesman for the Capitol Police, when he was asked about the new security arrangements. Sergeant Nichols said:

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People need access to their government. But they also need to be protected. There is a saying we go by--free access and security are basically opposing concepts. You can only increase one at the expense of the other.

Sergeant Nichols is exactly right. I believe we have erred too far on the side of security. With every new fence we put up, and every armed officer we station in front of it, we jeopardize a little bit more of the freedom symbolized by this great building.

This gleaming `jewel on the hill' is ever so slowly being transformed into Alcatraz on the Potomac.

What are we afraid of?

Very few Americans will ever be offered a guided tour of the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, CO. But once they have visited Washington, DC and make the trip to Capitol Hill, they will have a very good sense of the daily atmosphere at a maximum-security prison.

And that realization, Mr. President, ought to make them heartsick.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coverdell). The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I thank the Chair.

(The remarks of Mr. DeWine pertaining to the introduction of S. 1190 are located in today's Record under `Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions.')

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I thank the Chair.

(The remarks of Mr. DeWine pertaining to the introduction of S. 1197 are located in today's Record under `Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions.')

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.