Editorial: A need for correction |

Editorial: A need for correction

Allegheny County Jail

As long as we have people, we will have crime.

As long as we have crime, we need to have consequences.

And if one of those consequences is incarceration, we need to make sure that the people holding the keys are held to the highest standards.

Allegheny County Jail Warden Orlando Harper is in the midst of another issue surrounding allegations of sexual harassment by others in his working environment.

Three women who worked for him in the District of Columbia Department of Corrections say they asked him to intervene when they were being sexually harassed. Their 2013 lawsuit alleges he did not.

This suit follows the Trib’s own reporting in June that pointed to the Allegheny County Jail, under Harper’s leadersip, falling down on multiple aspects of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, including having blind spots where three other women say they were sexually assaulted by a former guard.

Harper has his critics. Some, including former guards, question his safety protocols and sexual harassment responses. He has also gotten good marks from the American Correctional Association, which just gave the jail a three-year accreditation renewal in February.

It might be easy to count this as one more
#MeToo moment. But prison rape, like sexual harassment of women in the work place, is nothing new, and neither can be tolerated.

As long as we have prisoners, we must treat them humanely, especially in a county facility where many still await trial. As long as people work together, they must feel safe and believe their superiors will take things like harassment seriously.

We have to decide how we hold everyone accountable for making that happen, and it’s not just something that happens in Hollywood or New York or Washington. We have to make it about what matters here, too.

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