Allegheny County Jail Warden okays partial lifting of lockdown

By Terri Hill | September 5, 2018

Some pods at the Allegheny County Jail are no longer on lockdown. Warden Orlando Harper announced Wednesday that he approved a partial lifting of the lockdown he imposed Sunday.

“Effective immediately, the lockdown has been lifted for all pods with the exception of 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E, 3F, Level 6 and Level 7. Segregation units 8E and 4F will operate as normal,” Mr. Harper said in a statement.

During the lockdown, inmates were confined to their cells and all visitation, telephone calls, commissary and recreation were canceled.

Mr. Harper said Wednesday, “Those pods released from the lockdown have been authorized for full recreation and split recreation (only half the pod at a time will be released for recreation).  Inmates housed on those pods will also be allowed telephone, commissary and programming.”

Jail officials with assistance from the Allegheny County Police have been searching since Sunday for the elusive substance that caused nine corrections officers and two medical employees to be treated at a local hospital.

The symptoms displayed by the staff members were not unlike those that some staff members of state correctional facilities have experienced over recent months.

In some cases, officials in state facilities have identified the substance using field tests kits similar to what police use to test suspected narcotics.  The substances that have been identified thus far include, fentanyl, amphetamines and synthetic cannabinoids.

During a briefing yesterday, Mr. Harper said that some suspicious items have been submitted for testing. He indicated that papers with stains on them have been found and confiscated and turned over to the county police.  He added that while officials were operating under the assumption that the substance on the papers contain a narcotic, it is not known if that substance caused the employees’ illness.

Jail officials are working closely with state prison officials in identifying and preventing the substance(s) from being smuggled into facilities. Training materials have been made available through ACJ, and educational materials have also been provided to inmates regarding synthetic opioids.

As far as when the entire facility may come off the lockdown Mr. Harper said, “We are continuing the search of the facility and will re-evaluate the release of the remaining pods from lockdown on an ongoing basis. These steps are being taken to ensure the safety and security of all those at the facility – from inmates under our control and custody, to our employees, volunteers and visitors. That safety remains our number one priority.”

Terri Hill can be contacted at


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