The absence of counseling and reliance on medication is a common occurrence in facilities like ACJ, where many incarcerated people would benefit from therapy, but problems like high population turnover, understaffing and lack of funding make delivering care complicated.
Compared to the other five largest PA counties, ACJ was far less transparent in providing its mental health policies. PublicSource appealed ACJ’s decision to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, but the appeal was denied.
Some members of the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board are insisting on increased transparency and access to jail records. The issue, which was discussed at the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday, was prompted in part by PublicSource’s ongoing reporting on conditions at the jail.
Update (3/6/2021): At the March 4 Jail Oversight Board meeting, Warden Orlando Harper reported to the board about restraint chair use. It was a deviation from what he typically shares at these meetings in response to the board asking for more information on how the jail uses the device following the original PublicSource report below. He said the jail used the restraint chair 18 times in February. He promised that, at the April board meeting, he would provide the March count and include the number of times a person with a mental health condition is placed in the chair. Harper also agreed to show board members the restraint chair forms that are completed each time the chair is used. Jail leadership also provided the board the healthcare queues the board requested following a PublicSource investigation about medical treatment at the facility.
Growing up in a dysfunctional family, she had always felt like an outsider. The feeling reached a crisis level when, at the end of her freshman year, she was sexually assaulted. “I took all of this unprocessed trauma and completely pushed it down,” said Foley Martinez, who now helps others leave far-right hate groups. “I felt so worthless.
Someone you love is having a breakdown. They could hurt themselves. Who do you call? If 911 leaps to mind, you’ll likely get a visit in a few minutes — from police, whose training includes behavioral health but is focused more on addressing criminality. If you can remember 1-888-796-8226 (or 1-888-7-YOU-CAN), you’ll get a mental health professional from resolve Crisis Services, a 13-year-old unit of UPMC hired by Allegheny County to handle behavioral incidents.
According to the county, the book policy was changed to protect against contraband and ensure the jail’s safety. But inmates and advocates worry that the new policy will further erode inmates’ mental health by limiting one of the only outlets available at the jail.