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All female inmates committed to Westmoreland jail to get pregnancy test

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Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

All female inmates committed to the Westmoreland County Prison will be subjected to a pregnancy test, whether they claim to be with child or not.

Warden John Walton said the new policy is being instituted by the jail's health care provider.

“That's for (the inmate's) well-being,” Walton said during Monday's prison board meeting.

The need for such a policy arose when a female inmate gave corrections officers false information several weeks ago, he said.

“This female came in and told us that she was not pregnant and she wasn't a drug user,” Walton said.

He declined to identify the inmate, who was found to be pregnant and addicted to drugs.

Since Jan. 1, 27 female inmates admitted to the jail were pregnant, Walton said after the meeting. That number constitutes 4 percent of the 661 female commitments through the first nine months of 2013.

When a pregnant woman who is addicted to drugs is lodged in the Westmoreland County Prison, she is immediately taken to Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment.

Walton said that because of the “danger to the fetus,” inmates spend three days in the hospital being weaned off drugs or starting methadone treatment.

It's a “costly thing” because of the round-the-clock supervision required by sheriff's deputies when an inmate is hospitalized, Walton said.

“(The sheriff) has to provide that manpower, which most of the time is overtime,” he said.

Pregnant inmates who are not addicted to drugs receive obstetrics care through the prison's contracted health care provider.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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