Allegheny County Jail Remains On Lockdown As Investigation Continues

County officials found and confiscated papers with stains on them

Shelby Cassesse
September 04, 2018 - 4:38 pm

Shelby Cassesse


PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - An investigation is ongoing into what caused 11 Allegheny County Jail employees to fall ill from Sunday into Monday, forcing a lockdown of the jail. 

Officials say nine corrections officers and two medical personnel were sickened on three separate floors of the jail and reported symptoms of high blood pressure and dizziness. They were transported to the hospital, but have since returned to work. 

Warden Orlando Harper described the situation Tuesday. 

"The 11 that were sickened over the weekend apparently entered a pod area, and they smelled something that made them sick."

Harper indicated that papers with stains on them were found and turned over to the Allegheny County Police Department for testing. Though there is no confirmation as to what is on the paper, the jail is operating under the assumption the papers contain a narcotic.

"The inmates are receiving paper that could have liquid stained narcotics on the paper," Harper said. 

The jail continues to undergo multiple searches for additional contraband. Any mail the inmates received is opened and photocopied by a jail employee. Then, the inmate receives the photocopy. None of those sickened were working in the mail room. No inmates have been reported ill. 

The lockdown of the jail comes in the midst of a lengthy lockdown of all state prisons after dozens of employees fell ill after coming in contact with inmates. Until jail officials lift the lockdown, inmates cannot leave their cell and no visitors are allowed.