Two Allegheny County Jail leaders dismissed

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Two senior Allegheny County Jail administrators were dismissed Wednesday, with one accusing jail leaders of forcing out longtime career officers.

Ruth Howze, the administrator of re-integration and alternative housing, and Walter Mikulan, a major at the jail, were both high-ranking leaders at the facility. Ms. Howze had worked at the jail since 2006; Mr. Mikulan would have marked his 30th anniversary next year.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs wouldn't say why they were fired, citing personnel privacy concerns. But Mr. Mikulan, who says he's talking with several lawyers, believes Warden Orlando Harper is looking to "clean house."

"They seem to be targeting their older employees at the jail," he said. "I think this is disgraceful. I think this guy is going to be stopped. And Allegheny County is going to be held liable if they don't do anything about it."

Mr. Mikulan says he wasn't given a reason for his firing. Over the past year, he said he's had four disciplinary hearings for minor paperwork issues, including one for a subordinate not filling out a sick-time slip. Before that, he says he had a spotless record.

As management, he is not covered by the jail guards' collective bargaining agreement.

When reached by phone, Ms. Howze said she also has hired a lawyer but declined to comment further.

Her department came under fire earlier this year when Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ordered jail officials to run all alternative housing assignments by him or a colleague on the bench before making placements.

Mr. Mikulan said he didn't know why Ms. Howze was dismissed, and wasn't aware of any other recent exits. But he does expect answers.

"I've never been arrested, I've never been trouble, I have never been terminated from any job," he said. "This isn't like I'm a habitual troublemaker."

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Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.


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