That was the number of deputies and other law enforcement officers at the arraignment of Brian Nichols yesterday. Nineteen deputies, most of them armed, some in bulletproof vests. Nichols was in shackles, but apparently they were taking no chances. Nineteen guards was overkill. Do you think that maybe the whole thing could have been avoided if the Fulton County Courthouse had given a prisoner who had been found with shanks the previous day more than one female deputy (whom he outweighed by about 80 pounds) to escort him? Lest you think that's a sexist statement, I'd say the same thing about a 5'2", 120 pound male deputy trying to escort a guy who was 6'1" and 200 pounds, martial arts trained and a former college football player. It was the size mismatch that was the problem, not the deputy's gender, and there should have been at least two deputies escorting a potentially violent prisoner like Nichols.
I saw that "The Purpose-Driven Life" has risen to number 2 on the book charts. Apparently a lot of people are curious about the book that Ashley Smith used to talk Nichols into surrendering. It's a nice little unexpected publicity boost for the book's author, Rick Warren. You couldn't buy that kind of exposure.