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Allegheny County Jail Board Orders Fewer, Cheaper TVs For Inmates

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A month ago, the Allegheny County Jail Board raised a public outcry by approving the purchase of 40 Sony Bravia TV sets for inmates over the objection of County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty.

“I think that’s just a little excessive,” he said. “When people are out there struggling in this economy, we’re spending money on the top of the line, beautiful TVs for people that are in jail.”

Today behind closed doors, the jail board reversed itself — ordering fewer TVs and cheaper ones.

The board approved the purchase of 10 Dynex flat screens at $249 each — $150 less than the Sony model.

Flaherty called it a victory.

“Taxpayers save a lot of money,” he said.

But not everyone was pleased.

“It’s quite irritating,” Marion Damick, of the ACLU, said.

She says the funds come from money inmates spend at the commissary and that inmates should be able to purchase quality sets.

“Isn’t it better to get something for $100 or $150 more that’s going to last you 10 years? Yes,” Damick said. “That’s economy for the county if the county wanted to save money. They’re not interested in the moment in that. They’re interested in simply taking over the inmate commissary fund.”

Some would argue that the decision is largely symbolic, but others say it makes the point that inmates should not have what the general taxpaying public cannot afford.

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