PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Allegheny County warden says the Jail Oversight Board’s vote to end the use of a controversial prison contractor will make things less safe inside the jail.
In a rare press appearance Tuesday, Warden Orlando Harper addressed the media about the controversial prison contractor hired by Allegheny County to train corrections officers in less lethal tactics to restrain inmates.READ MORE: Billboards Go Up In McKeesport Asking People To Come Forward With Information In Killing Of Karli Short
“They voted in favor of the motion that further jeopardizes the safety and security of this facility as well as people’s lives,” said Harper.
Harper says he’ll pause the training by C-SAU, the controversial prison contractor owned by Joseph Garcia. But he’s now consulting with his legal team to figure out how to interpret the motion passed Monday night by the Jail Oversight Board.
The warden says he interprets the language of the motion to mean he’s forbidden from offering any and all training inside the Allegheny County Jail. He says he’s not going to honor that and will keep training.
Harper read the motion out loud saying that it reads the Jail Oversight Board “prohibits Allegheny County, C-SAU, Joseph Garcia and or any other related entities from conducting any training of corrections officers or employees of the Allegheny County Jail.”
The motion stems from the board’s alleged inability to get answers to basic questions about Garcia’s resume, professional and military background.READ MORE: West Virginia Man Accused Of Shooting And Killing Pregnant Woman Taken Into Custody
The Jail Oversight Board voted yes to the motion 4-3-1.
“Literally the board has prohibited this facility from conducting any trainings of officers and employees,” said Harper. “They did not limit this to the training that they’ve raised concerns with, but instead used irresponsibly broad language that prevents me from training someone to administer medication, learn CPR or even bring new cadets into our facility.”
Board members say the motion is intended to stop Joseph Garcia and C-SAU’s training in the jail and does not intend for all training to stop.
At Tuesday’s press conference, a former jail inmate started yelling at Harper and another man brought a large sign that read “honor the vote.”
When asked if Harper consulted with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on the decision to not fully honor the motion of the Jail Oversight Board, Harper said he did not yet talk to Fitzgerald.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller reached out for comment from Fitzgerald and received this statement:MORE NEWS: Take Action Mon Valley Demands Answers After 2 Incidents Involving Police Officers In Homestead
“From the beginning of his tenure, the County Executive has worked with the County Manager to put experts in place to lead county departments. They continue to rely on that expertise, and do not micro-manage their work. Warden Harper and the Department of Corrections are part of that approach. They are continuing to rely on the Warden and his 33+ years of correctional experience, as well as his track record of making improvements at the jail that have resulted in ACA certification, a reduction in the number of suicides at the facility, and continued efforts to reduce the population at the facility. Warden Harper continues to have the administration’s full support.”