Tour the secret floor in the Cadena Reeves Justice Center only seen by few in Bexar County

Complete jail housed between first, second floors

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The Cadena Reeves Justice Center looks like a standard big building housing courtrooms and administrative offices, but inside, there is a secret floor only a few have seen.

It is a place seldom seen by anyone other than court staff and Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Sandwiched between the first and second floors is an entire floor known to the Sheriff’s Office and court personnel as “1.5.”

“You will not be able to tell that you are in a courthouse,” said Courthouse Security Chief Aristides Jimenez, as he explained the existence of the area. “For all practical purposes, you can be in any detention facility – any jail – in the state.”

The area is actually a jail, complete with cells, a staff of deputies, a booking desk and everything else found in an ordinary jail. It is where prisoners are held prior to their court appearance.  A private elevator, not accessible by the public, moves inmates to their respective courtrooms throughout the day.

“We move an average of 165 to 200 inmates a day,” Jimenez said.

Handling the large volume of inmates is no simple task, he said. Jimenez referred to the staff as “my unsung heroes.”

“Those moments when you’re transporting and moving an inmate is dangerous,” he said.

Each day, well before dawn, inmates are bused from the Bexar County Jail on Comal Street to the Justice Center for the day’s court proceedings. There, they’re processed in much of the same way as inmates are handled when they’re booked into jail.

The inmates are assigned either cells or pods, again similar to the jail, where they’re held until it’s their day in court.

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