Wagner Expresses Full Confidence in New Jail Administration to Rectify Deficiencies
PITTSBURGH — In a report released today, County Controller Chelsa Wagner revealed inadequate internal controls over to prisoner fund accounts at the Allegheny County Jail. Of particular concern, the Controller’s Audit Team could not locate three missing pieces of technology bought out of the Prisoner Welfare Expense Trust Fund, including two laptops valued near $1,000 each and a digital camera purchased for $377, and an unexplained $15,984 difference when the Inmate Trust Account balances were reconciled between the Jail’s prisoner management system and its own accounting software, which is separate from the rest of the County.
Additionally, the report details a variety of findings and recommendations to improve internal controls for the Jail’s accounting and administration of these accounts. A summary of all findings and recommendations can be found in the Executive Summary of the attached report. The report can also be downloaded in a PDF format.
“Missing electronics and unexplained accounting differences raise serious red flags about the internal controls at the County Jail,” County Controller Wagner said. “The Jail must investigate these matters until they have an explanation for these missing items and funds or we will have no choice but to refer the matter to appropriate law enforcement.”
The two funds in the report contain no taxpayer dollars and are used exclusively by the Jail and inmates. One, the Inmate Trust Account, holds individual balances of funds for inmates containing either monies that they possessed on intake or received directly from family and friends while in the Jail. The other fund, the Prisoner Welfare Expense Trust, contains self-generated funds derived from revenue from the Jail commissary and inmate pay phones. All expenditures from the latter fund are to be approved by the Jail Advisory Board and used for the benefit, education, and welfare of inmates.
“These funds are important for inmates to have an opportunity to improve their own welfare and, hopefully, reduce the recidivism rate when they leave the jail,” Wagner said, “It is essential that these funds be better administered and, from their response and level of cooperation, I have the full confidence that the Jail’s new warden, Orlando Harper, and his deputy warden, Monica Long, are committed to improving internal controls.”
Controller Wagner plans to give the jail time to do their own investigation of these gaps in internal controls but will enter into a new investigation of the funds if these areas are not improved. Wagner recommends in the report that the Jail upgrade its Offender Management System to the software to reconcile the Inmate Trust bank account. Until then, the Controller recommends that monthly reconciliations of the cash balances be done. The Controller also recommends that the Jail immediately conduct a physical inventory of all assets to locate the named missing assets and in order to determine if any other assets cannot be located. Additionally, Wagner will take an in-depth look specifically at gaps in the Jail accounting system balances in more detail in the near future.
“The County Jail recently received a large budget increase and taxpayers deserve to have confidence that this investment will not be wasted,” Controller Wagner stated.