O’Hara Twp, Pennsylvania -- Allegheny County Councilwoman Anita Prizio today released the following statement condemning the recent change to Allegheny County Jail policy that now subjects incarcerated individuals to strip searches after meetings with legal council or therapists:

“This recent policy change isn’t just an abhorrent violation of the rights of Allegheny County residents, it’s also a sloppy, lazy, and inefficient scheme that lacks any semblance of good judgement, wisdom, insight, or prudence.

Incarcerated individuals who are survivors of childhood sexual assault ought to be allowed to meet with their therapist without being subjected to the loss of dignity and additional trauma that strip searches can induce.

Healthcare, including mental health care, ought to be an inalienable right for all individuals in the county jail, and we must make sure there are no barriers to individuals receiving the care they need.

Every individual in the county jail ought to be able to meet with their lawyer without these additional burdens that will do little to actually solve the management’s concern.

I understand that the jail’s management is worried about drug smuggling through paper, but the solution is to examine the paper, not the naked bodies of the inmates.

If there really is a concern that lawyers and sexual assault counselors are smuggling in drug-soaked paper, then a jail-monitored photocopier or printer should be provided free of charge for the transfer of documents into and out of the jail.

That’s one of many reasonable solutions that places the burden on the government and incentivizes jail management to address the drug concern at its root cause -- by changing the environment of our jail so that incarcerated individuals have the resources they need to develop their career plan instead of being pressured to use harmful drugs.”