In the nearly two years since Allegheny County Jail Warden Ramon Rustin left for a post in New Mexico, no less than six acting wardens have administered the Uptown facility, but no more.
On Sept. 13, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that Orlando Harper would take over as warden next month.
“After a long search process, I am proud to announce the appointment of Orlando L. Harper as the new Warden of the Allegheny County Jail and look forward to his service to our county,” said Fitzgerald. “Orlando has strong management experience and has been proactive in identifying security risks and issues, as well as crafting solutions. He is also open to the innovative ideas aimed at reducing recidivism and providing services for which Allegheny County has been known. He is committed to working with all of our stakeholders to make changes to existing services and has indicated his intent to continue working with those parties moving forward.”
Harper, a US Army veteran, most recently served as deputy warden for operations in the Washington, DC. Department of Corrections. He has been with the department his entire career, starting as a security guard in 1986.
During his introduction, Harper did not delve into the specifics of his plans for administrative or programming changes, but expressed his thanks and excitement at tackling the new opportunity.
“First, thank you to County Executive Fitzgerald and all the members of the search team for giving me the opportunity to serve as the Warden of the Allegheny County Jail,” he said. “I am very excited to serve the citizens of Allegheny County and I look forward to working with all the employees of the Allegheny County Jail, fellow law enforcement agencies, citizens, volunteers and the inmate population.”
He also thanked the interim administrators and staff for maintaining a safe and secure facility during the extended transition period.
Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, who also chairs the jail oversight board and served on the 22-member search committee, said she is pleased with Harper’s appointment.
“The search committee spent many, many hours reviewing resumes from applicants through a nationwide search and came up with somebody that will be great warden,” she said. “We also think that Mr. Harper will be a great fit for our community and look forward to working with him.”
Harper, a past Officer of the Year and Supervisor of the Year award recipient, is certified by the American Correctional Association as a Certified Correctional Manager. He has also served as a Commissioner of the ACA Accreditation and is a certified National Institute of Corrections instructor.
When he officially takes up his new post Oct. 15, he will oversee a $56.5 million annual budget, a staff of more than 480, and an average inmate population of about 2500. His salary will be $98,345.