During a March 2 Jail Oversight Board Meeting, Warden Orlando Harper announced that incarcerated people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are housed in the general population units would soon be able to have visitors. The county made the official announcement of the return to in-person visits on March 16.
Incoming visitors will have to show proof of vaccination, although “an exception will be made for visitation of children under 5 who cannot be vaccinated yet,” and “juveniles who are not able to make a decision about vaccination themselves are also exempt from this requirement, and will be allowed visitation,” says the release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us, and that includes our incarcerated population,” says Warden Orlando Harper says in the release. “While we have had tremendous success with our tablet virtual visit services, we look forward to returning to a sense of normalcy at the facility. As a result of declining number of COVID-19 both in the jail and in the community, we will slowly phase in-person visitation back into the Allegheny County Jail.”
In-person visitation will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. A different level will receive visits each day. The full schedule and policy information can be found on the jail’s website.
Anyone seeking to visit an incarcerated individual must register as an approved visitor. Once approved, visits must be scheduled online through RENOVO. Visits must be scheduled no later than two days in advance. Potential visitors can also register by calling 412-350-2413 or, if vaccinated, may appear in-person at the jail between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Those who were approved visitors before the COVID-19 pandemic will not need to re-register but should login to verify that the person they wish to visit is listed when they log in to RENOVO. If there is no name listed, they should call 412-350-2413 to resolve.
This news comes after the ACJ’s union workers authorized a vote of no confidence in Harper because of persistent understaffing they say poses a safety risk to both incarcerated individuals and staff. The jail recently made headlines after Gerald Thomas, a 26-year-old incarcerated man died on March 7 shortly after collapsing at the Allegheny County Jail, according to TribLive.
“The administration continues to have full confidence in Warden Harper and the leadership team at the county jail,” county spokeswoman Amie Downs tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.