The Allegheny County Jail was completed in 1995 at a cost of $147 million. The federal courts mandated its construction to eliminate the overcrowded conditions that existed at the previous county facility.
It has a capacity of 1,800 beds, and had costs of $39.2 million in 1996, which is about 16% of property taxes. Personnel and benefits costs accounted for 60% of the jail expenditures in 1996. XX% of jail services are currently contracted for.
Inmates at the jail are detainees awaiting arraignment or trial and those convicted of minor offenses requiring jail terms of two years or less. The jail averages about 60 admissions per day and has a daily population of roughly 1,500 inmates.
The jail management has experienced some difficulties in operating the new facility. An April 1996 report by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections found the jail “lacked formal leadership, adequate security measures for prisoners and and inadequate staffing procedures”. The study cited problems such as doors left open for the convenience of guards, inmate access to knives, unused metal detectors and lacking emergency plans. The new warden, Calvin Lightfoot, is attempting to address these issues, but the DOC report suggests the challenges Allegheny County faces in managing this facility.