Lockdown lifted for some parts of Allegheny County Jail
An ongoing lockdown at the Allegheny County Jail has been partially lifted, according to Warden Orlando Harper.
“We are continuing the search of the facility and will re-evaluate the release of the remaining pods from lockdown on an ongoing basis,” Harper said in a statement released Wednesday.
The entire jail has been on lockdown since Monday, when 11 employees were sickened by what jail officials now believe were drugs smuggled into the facility.
Pods that remain on lockdown are 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E, 3F and Levels 6 and 7, according to the release.
Harper said pods no longer on lockdown will be permitted recreation as well as use of the telephone, commissary and programming.
Officials said Tuesday they believe synthetic drugs sickened the employees — something that has plagued the state corrections system for more than a week. All the state-run correctional institutions were locked down early last week after more than a dozen employees at several locations became sick.
State officials believe synthetic marijuana – known as K2 – is the culprit, and it is coming into the facilities in a form that has been liquefied and dried on the paper of letters or books.
Harper said he thinks that’s how inmates received the drugs at the county jail but stopped short of declaring it K2.
“Apparently, the inmates are receiving paper that could have liquid stained narcotics on the paper,” Harper said. “I’m just going to say that it’s suspected liquid narcotics on the paper.”
Nine jail guards and two members of the medical staff were sickened Sunday night in different areas of the jail. One guard was in the intake area, and another was in the visiting area. Harper said they became sick after inhaling something. The employees, who reported elevated blood pressure and dizziness, were treated at a local hospital and released. All have returned to work.
In the meantime, Harper said, they will continue to search the pods remaining on lockdown.
“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,” he said. “That safety remains our number one priority.”
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.