Allegheny County Jail Inmates Get New Flat Screen TVs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They’re top of the line flat screen TVs and right now, inmates at the Allegheny County Jail are likely watching them.

The County Jail Oversight Board recently approved the purchase of 40 Sony Bravia televisions for viewing in the jail common areas.

If a judge sentenced you to the Allegheny County Jail, you’d be provided three hot meals and a bed to sleep in, but in common areas, you’d also be able to watch cable shows on 42-inch Sony flat screens.

The County Jail Oversight Board recently approved the purchase of 40 sets for $16,000 or $395 a piece.

“If our families in Allegheny County can’t afford 42-inch Sony Bravia TVs, the prisoners certainly shouldn’t be able to be watching them in jail,” he said.

The money comes from the “Inmate Welfare Fund” – proceeds from the jail commissary used by the inmates.

Onorato administration officials who wouldn’t be interviewed on camera or allow the televisions to be photographed, argued in a statement that it’s not the public’s money.

“No taxpayer dollars or county funds are being used to purchase the televisions. The inmates are purchasing the televisions to replace old or broken sets. The decision to purchase the TVs was made by a committee that consists of jail personnel and inmate advocates.”

“The point of being in jail is not to mistreat people or make them feel worse and resentful,” Marion Damick, a committee member, said.

She told KDKA-TV the inmates are not being rewarded for bad behavior.

While the debate may rage on, the TVs have already been purchased. They’re arriving and being hooked up just in time for Steeler season.

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Allegheny County Jail

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  • Regina Staiger

    I can’t even afford a flat screen and I haven’t even gotten a parking ticket HMMMMM

    • Martin O'Martin

      You can’t afford a Sony flat screen TV for $395??? Then maybe you should give up cigarettes and beer for 2 weeks… Problem solved.

      • That Guy

        @ Cece…I think he got the $395 figure from the part in the story where it said they cost $395 each.

      • astuartgirl

        Martin, was that an attempt at comedy or sarcasm? Either way you failed … give up commenting as it’s not your forte.

      • Cece

        Martin O’Martin-
        You are a moron. I don’t smoke or drink myself, I work a full time job, pay my rent and bills, yet I personally do not an extra $395 laying around any given day for a TV. I had to save my 32″ LCD TV. By the way…get the facts straight. Sony TVs are some of the most expensive ones to buy. They actually run well over $1,000 each (NOT $395). So no. The average person does not have the extra $ for a Sony TV just laying around.

    • Karen Jones

      If inmates paid for them, then let them have them. As a Correctional Officer in the State of Florida, I have no problem with it. Cut’s down on a lot of problems when the inmates have TV to watch Sports on. Sorry, if you can’t afford one. But that has nothing to do with what the inmates purchase with THEIR own money.

      • Karen Jones

        P.S. Kudos to the Administration for allowing the inmates to purchase what they want with their mondy. Furthermore Jail is NOT Prison. Jail hold innocent people until proven guilty and inmates who are serving misdomenor offenses only. Big difference between a jail and an actual Priosn.

  • Fife

    Let them have it, better them to sit down and watch something then go about rioting and hurting other prisoners. Its not like its in their cells people, its in a commons area.

    • Jay Twila


    • MGD

      still….if we didnt give them such great treatment, maybe people would try harder to be upstanding citizens and stay out of jail. Common area or not…if they want these types of perks maybe they should be better people and not commit crimes…BINGO

      • Dan

        With your thought process if you go to Giant Eagle and spend money there, the profits they earn are yours. Same difference this money is from profits from the commisary which is funded with tax dollars. No wonder Obama has got us busted and worse in debt.

      • Emmanuel Goldstien

        MGD–First off, the people in county jail may have done nothing wrong, and have not been convicted. people in county are there waiting for trial (and don’t have the money to be bailed out). Or they are in there for minor offenses. I once moved and court appearance paperwork was not reaching me. I missed a court date and there was a warrant put out for my arrest. I was pulled over, and ended up in county jail for 2 days. Know what my original offense was? Failure to get my car inspected. It was one month overdue on inspection. should I have been subjected to (your words) MISERABLE conditions for not getting my car inspected on time? How about the guy who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets arrested and held for a few days before his innocence is determined? Prison and Jail are both horrible places, TV’s or no TV’s.

      • Frank

        @josh. “Don’t hate”? Your support of fiery crash shows that you’re the one with hate. Your immaturity is speaking in volumes.

      • jason

        i agree with josh, i too hope you die in a fiery crash.
        the inmates paid for those tv’s not you. dont hate cause you cant re-appropriate,

      • josh

        yes b/c people love going to jail. it’s sooo awesome to be in jail w a tv. are you nuts? seriously? do you have a mental problem that leaves you unable to analyze situations correctly? go die in a fire republican

      • MGD

        Josh…. really, die in a fire? wow. All for having an opinion, careful wishing death on people, karma is a bit*h. You really have issues :) You f**king moron i never said people love going to jail. I just believe jail should be miserable. And, there are actually people out there who do prefer jail because they have nothing. Regardless, jail is not meant to be easy…it’s meant to be miserable, thats why its PRISON dumb @$$. I can tell you are one of those idiots who just wants things handed to them. Great..yeah you’re a real superb addition to society.

  • MarK T

    This is outrageous. Why couldn’t they buy used televisions? The money should go to the victims they’ve wronged! This makes me sick to my stomach.

    • Dave Grimm

      i completely agree, these A-Holes live better than i do.

      • CommonSense

        Not every body in county jail is convicted of a crime yet. Innocent until proven guilty.

      • jason

        theres always suicide, dave. if your life is so awful that jail inmates have it better, it sounds to me like you have absolutely nothing to live for.. get it over with, bro.. /wrists

    • Karen Jones

      MarK T: Have you ever been to jail? Jail is NOT prison. And a flat screen TV is still no comfort inside a jail. As far as the money going to the victims, that is a civil matter, in this country handled by the courts. I can assure you, as I am a Correctional Officer, that a flat screen TV is nice, but the comforts of jail are scary, loud and have you tried to eat the food? YUCK..

    • Skipdallas

      “USED TV’s” are you serious? and they were purchased with funds generated from their own money, that in most cases was put into their account by friends and relatives. BTW most jail inmates have yet to be convicted of their charged crimes, so technically the ARE no victims as of yet.

      • Rob

        How about no TVs at all? Prison is in the world so people can suffer alone and realize the consequences of their actions. Why should they get a TV when there are other people in the world who can’t even afford to live in their own house?

  • Disconnected Dan

    Dan said its not your money and I’m sure he truly believes that, anyway DAN LOST last election, and in his own mind I think he believes that he’s not finished.
    That just goes to show how disconnected he and his Democom party are.

  • Jamie K

    When they say “in public areas”, that’s mainly in the hallways and in front of the elevators, not where the inmates live.

    The reporter should also take a look at what’s actually shown on those screens. It’s mostly training for guards on those screens (except in the lobby, where visitors sit).

    • Crazyness

      Dosnt matter its wasted money! and even if its shows tranning things on it they dont need 40 of em !!!

      • Aram Vartian

        It isn’t your money. It isn’t the governments money. Regardless of the fact that they are incarnated, the money belongs to them. You don’t get to tell fellow citizens how to spend their own money.

      • bvar

        All “government money” is MY money. It’s money I earned then had taken from me by taxation.

      • Rob

        im replying to you because it wont let me reply to Aram down there, but it may be the Governments money, but who pays the government? we the people pay them!

  • Thomas J Duttine

    Who is going to be paying the cable bill???

  • Wasta Time

    Where can the prison find a TV that ISN’T a flat screen? There may be some at the Goodwill but that’s about it. Maybe The KD Investigators can find a YouTube sight that has more interesting news stories

    • Ann

      YAWN!! This jail TV story is SO not newsworthy. The TVs are not paid for with tax money, institutions need TVs to pacify inmates, decent TVs do not make jail a cool place to be, and if I had to replace my TV it would cost at least $400! My question is, why is there so much surplus commissary money anyway, what is THAT about? And I’m pretty sure this story is somehow about politics, not principles.

      • Connie Contral

        Here is a good way to pacify them, lock them in their cell for 23 hours a day and let them out for an hour of exercise a day. If they were law abiding citizens then they wouldn’t be in jail, living off our tax money that pays for them being there. We need to do like other Countries, let your family pay for them in Jail, if they don’t have money to put on their accounts, bread and water for them period.

  • Critter

    Democrats in action. remember that when u vote


    people in jail get better treatment than people who work all day to provide for there families. most people cant afford to put 3 quality meals on a table let alone a 42inch hdtv and yet you go to jail and get more than someone working all day long. ready for a change of parties to where you have to earn what you get not given just given things like they feel you should as democrats…… IF you want somethign you dont have to earn it just wait for someone who works there butt off and feel like you should have it too thatas whats wrong with this everyone anymore being entitled to everything…………

    • sumday

      IF you want somethign you dont have to earn it just wait for someone who works there butt off and feel like you should have it too- funny isn’t that exactly how the banks make there money? The borrow it from the government at low rates then have the gov insure the money they borrowed then loan it to you at higher rates- the gov give the banks the money so the banks can “loan” it to you so you can go work your butt off to make the banks more profit for doing nothing. Cut the banks out and let the gov lend directly to the people!

  • kristy

    you know, this REALLY sucks. :( another example of being rewarded for bad behavior in this freakin’ country.

    • Aram Vartian

      No, it is an example of people working earnestly and earning a reward. No one gave the inmates that money. That money is not taxpayer money, it was earned by the inmates.

      Did none of you read the article? Exactly why do so many of you think you have the right to tell a private citizen how they should spend their money?

      • bob

        It’s not “earned”. Commissary is like a grocery store, except they don’t pay taxes. Instead of taxpayers getting taxes, the jail is keeping all the commissary proceeds & profit then saying these inmates “earned” something.

        And this IS ridiculous considering Goodwill industries has countless televisions going for pennies if not free on Craigslist. As they are allegedly “replacing” televisions, that would mean the TV stands are already installed. I would venture to guess installing new plasma TV’s requires either new installation setups or else significant modification of the older ones to prevent these aholes from throwing things and breaking the TV. I bet the new TV stands cost just as much as each television…should be public records, but they will likely cover this up as maintenance fees/overtime instead of line item transparency.

      • bvar

        You sound like you are speaking from experience. The inmates are given the privelege of earning. It’s a privelege, not a right, as it is for me. Once they step outside the bounds of decent society as a result of rejecting society’s rules and norms, they also forfeit society’s benefits and rights.

      • jason

        @dj – that stupid constitution, always getting in the way of justice and the plight of good conservatives like yourself.

      • DJ

        Inmates have no rights! sorry

  • Julie B

    who says crime does not pay? It is the same politicos that allow this to happen so why are they still in office? I can not afford a TV like this yet they have them. I even work for a living a novel idea in this area. Thanks Democrats it is under your watch that allows this to happen. Remember folks you voted them in. It is 70 years of dominate one party rule, all the way around that is just one more thing that can be added to the list yet you’ll vote the same names, same old ones in, and oh you got change for the worst.

    • jason

      really? how much are you trolls getting paid to post this drivel? the dems have NOT been the dominant party for the last 70 years.. dont let facts and logic get in your way tho, shill

      • Bvar

        What county do you live in? In Allegheny, especially in the city of Pittsburgh it’s been Dumbocrats for at least 70 years. Now in today’s news, a guard, probably a patronage job, is arrested with 90+ counts of crimes and 8 other guards suspended. More Dems who are no worse than the criminals they supervise.

  • absurdity

    Who cares if it’s not the taxpayer’s money!!! The lowlife’s in jail are SUPPOSED to be getting punished. That $16,000 can go to any charity or something productive. People are starving to death all over the world, and even here at home people are having a hard time making ends meet. This is absurd! completely absurd! These men should be doing backbreaking work, learning a lesson and earning thier freedom so that they have an incentive not to go back to prison. Bring back chain gangs!!!!

    • Aram Vartian

      So, you are fine with stealing 16,000 from people who are incarnated. You are fine with forcing them into slave labor and reaping financial reward from it.

      Because that is what you are suggesting. The prisoners earned this money. it belongs to them. And because you don’t like that, you are advocating stealing it from them.

      Maybe a few of you should be in jail with them.

      • Bvar

        They aren’t incarnated, that was Jesus. They are incarcerated, that’s what you were.

      • Teresa Shipman

        Former inmate?

    • AHHHHH


    • jason

      these men that havent been convicted of anything? are we punishing people without trials now? your handle is apropriate, absurdity is very clearly all youve got.

  • Amanda

    I believe that when your i jail you should not be enjoying the simple pleasures that we do outside of jail. People are in jaIl for committing crimes, not for watching cable tv on flat screen tvs. They could possibly do that @ home. Your being punished you shouldn’t have fun.

    • llama


  • Yodajlw

    Reading some of these posts they apparently have the internet in jail.

  • angeleyesih

    The Hilton on the River!

    • Tionesta Bags

      What is the big deal here ? My goodness,395 is not a bad price for a TV,it’s no secret that they watch television in jail.What are they supposed to purchase,black and white sets ? This is totally a non-issue,another news story put out there to stir the viewers emotions,mission accomplished.Time to move on people,I know I’m asking a bit much.

      • Jay Twila

        Well said

      • You're a bit much

        Is this all about you and what you think you must be a Democom , you all leave comments like this instructing people what to do , like your someone of importance
        I’ll move on when I’m ready and I’ll decide what I think is an issue, if you don’t like it you have the option to move on.

  • steve


    • Jay Twila

      The reason for so much crime is because of irresponsible morons like you. Maybe if there was no welfare state to begin with and no war on drugs, there would be a lot less crime.

      But let me say this, when the government kidnaps people and takes them into custody. They had better pay for it with health care and three meals a day. It should be purposely expensive as a deterrent to crooked government officials.


        You’re not making sense I don’t understand how no war on drugs makes less crime.
        I think you’re HIGH which would explain you’re impaired comments , always remember that YOU’RE IMPAIRED that’s why you make no sense.
        I also think if you try to explain it to me I will not understand because YOU’RE JUDGEMENT IS IMPAIRED.

      • Just Saying...

        I dont know about anyone else, but if the government continues “kidnapping” murders and rapists i think it is a good thing. The benefits these inmates recieve is better than most peoples work benefits packages, and that is laughable…just like your post.

      • Rob

        Really? you think we are high because of our opinions? wow!

    • Mark D.

      Look at pot yelling at kettle! Did you mean *deterrent*? Hahaha Also, turn off your caps lock – dimwit

    • TSgt Bourland

      I am in the Air Force, been in 20 years. When we deploy we get no TV. We might get 1 meal a day……Let them go to jail with no TV and the same food we get.. . . Bet many of them will be crying! Better yet many of them wont come back again! Oh and they lost all thier rights when they broke the law!

  • D

    says who ? Do not try to rationlize the expenditures of a democratic city ………. it is plain and simple wrong . If you do the crime , you should do the time not get rewarded for it. They have to tilt their heads back ……………….puuullleeaasseee . Do you think we are all idiots ?

  • Jim Parsons

    I’m sure the TV’s aren’t tuned into KDKA

  • Dave Grimm

    bring back capital punishment, these THUGS should not be living better than me. they should be contributing to the community, instead of, watching TV on a big screen, educating themselves, playing basketball, working out. they should have NO PRIVLEDGES, you lost that when you did what you did. NO HEAT, NO A/C, they should have to suffer the CONSEQUENCES! JUST SAYING.

    • Jay Twila

      You should suffer for making such horrible comments about your fellow man. Where is your sense of humanity. If they really live better than you, then turn yourself into the Sheriff’s office. You are a total fool and a threat to the liberty of all Americans. Your ideas are terrible and will be defeated.


        I think you should turn yourself in to the sheriff, your high and your JUDGEMENT IS IMPAIRED .
        Don’t try to explain it to me because you sound like some drunken fool rambling on BLAH, BLAH BLAH.
        Oh by the way YOU’RE IMPAIRED.

      • Dave Grimm

        I think you smoke Jays. yeah i am a drunken high mess. real creative. i love that i get criticized for my OPINION…you people are stupid! you are what is wrong with our society today. go overseas and see if you get this kind of treatment for a crime…..let me wait here for your response!

      • Jim in Houston

        We left it at the door when they committed the crime. I hate coddling of criminals!

      • Dave Grimm

        how are my ideas terrible. my fellow men are stupid, they loose their civil liberties and rights when they commit their crime.
        By me stating that they live better than me, i am simply saying that, i dont have time for 3 hot meals a day, i DONT own a flat screen TV, i dont have Central Air Conditioning in my house. why should WE the tax payer, pay for their meals, thier cable, thier equipment, education etc. they should have to earn it like i earn my pay check to get those luxery’s.

      • DingleBerry

        Turn yourself in for what? How do you just turn yourself in to the sheriff? If you could do that, the jails would be full of homeless people. Do you have any idea what you are saying?

        The criminals are in jail because THEY are the threat to all the liberties we enjoy.


      Mr Grimm, I was not referring to you smoking jays, I was referring to Twila, I would not criticize you, but I think Twila smokes jays his comments obviously reflect that.

      • MGD

        Dave Grimm..AMEN! I have lived in many countries over seas, and yes, I have even visited a prison (as part of my job). You are right!!! if we treated our people like they do, we would have less crime. THAT is what prison should be..miserable….not this BS of watching TV and working out. I can’t even remember what country it is, but there is one where if your family does not bring you food and water then you just starve. Too bad.

    • sumday

      so your suggestion is we focus totally on punishment giving them only the bare necessities to survive and you think that will “fix those criminals”? I thought we had evolved from beyond the simple mindedness of the dark ages but I see there are still many who are proud to be ignorant. Setting up a system solely founded on punishment is a re-occurring cycle of crime- and studies show/prove this. Should we coddle them- Hell no, just pointing out that a system based solely on punishment accomplishes nothing, but that is exactly how our system works now (80% return rate). Jail should be about rehabilitation, but we don’t focus on that at all. Instead people like you suggest as much punishment as possible and then wonder why when they get out they are worse than before they went it- does it really take a genius to figure out why that is? It’s not really your fault though most people with small minds have trouble understanding complex traits of human nature.

      • Sumday You're An Idiot

        Oh, i guess i didnt realize that Monday night football and episodes of the office are considered rehabilitating….yeah, makes TOTAL sense Mr Intelligence.

  • I Have No Fear

    Fear not Pittsburghers our jails is just what you would want it to be, well that’s good for that’s what they should be.
    I could care less if they have 1 bench and that the guards control the volume do you feel they deserve better, they are in jail for a crime.
    I will pray everyday for the victims of their crimes, for they are the ones that need a minister.

  • jeeperz

    Should have only let them buy books. And if they cant read, use the money for someone to teach them.

    • Jim in Houston

      They probably couldn’t color inside the lines.

  • exit

    Flat screens take less power less room better on the eyes would it be better if they bought tube style TV

  • Douglas Lynn

    I do not know why more of the homeless don’t commit a crime just to get to go to jail.

  • Mark D.

    Look, if this money comes from the inmates, none of us has the right to tell them they cannot purchase the tvs. I actually think it’s a rather good idea to have them entertained by such a mind-numbing device. I understand the argument against them, but again, if it’s their money, who are we to decide? I wouldn’t want you people telling me how I could spend my money! †

    • mugsy

      after reading your response , it’s clear after birth you were put in front of a TV set and have never left that spot. Your clueless Mark D, just downright clueless.

    • Barry bin Inhalin

      They are incarcerated. Yes, we can tell them they can’t jhave luxury items. Ask Sheriff Arpaio about it.

      • sumday

        The same sheriff who is still trying to investigate Obama’s birth certificate? or the same sheriff who has used his position to intimadate and lie about other canadiates who run against him? I may agree with some of the sheriffs thoughts, but the guy is no different than any other politician- he lies for his own gain and often show boats for his own ego.

    • Vicky Bevis

      Mark D.:
      I didn’t know the inmate commissary was a FOR PROFIT entity. As I understood it, inmates mostly had relatives/friends put money into their accts. & then they could draw from it for snacks, smokes, etc.
      What I wonder about is who is “skimming” from this “profitable” venture? And whhre did they buy the T.V.’s? Maybe the Warden or some other offical has a brother-in-law who runs an appliance store. It just smells to me.

  • steve

    Thank heavens Onorato didn’t make it to the governor’s mansion!

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