‘I just kind of hate being blindsided.’ Jail Board requests records provided to media, asks to be better informed
Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board members are learning about key issues at the jail through the media, according to comments from two members at their monthly meeting Thursday.
Following a PublicSource investigation about missed medications and long wait times to receive medical care at the jail, board member Bethany Hallam requested during the meeting that the board regularly receive jail schedules and medical waitlists that PublicSource used in its investigation. “I learned a lot of the things I’ve been wanting to learn about things happening at the jail through a journalist, and that has been happening a lot lately,” Hallam said. “And as much as I love local journalism and respect our local journalists, I just kind of hate being blindsided by them, especially as a member of the Jail Oversight Board.”
Hallam requested the queues of the jail psychiatrist, mental health specialists and medical sick calls, which show how many inmates are waiting to be seen. She also requested the medical schedules, which indicate the number of employees scheduled in the intake department; the healthcare shift reports, which include the number of inmates who have been waiting in the intake department for almost 24 hours at the end of each shift; and reports of any health-related incidents. Most of those records were obtained by PublicSource through open records requests.
The Jail Oversight Board is a nine-member body tasked with ensuring the jail is being managed properly, as well as ensuring the safety and health of inmates.