Abolitionist Law Center
6 min readSep 14, 2021



To submit a public comment to the Jail Oversight Board, please click here. The deadline for public comment is Sunday September 19.

Community Organizations, County Residents Call on the Jail Oversight Board to Ban Joseph Garcia and C–SAU from Allegheny County Jail

September 14, 2021

Jail Oversight Board

To the Honorable Members of the Jail Oversight Board,

As human rights advocates, community organizations, formerly incarcerated, and otherwise concerned members of Allegheny County, we hereby call on the Jail Oversight Board to take swift and decisive action to prohibit Joseph Garcia and his company, Corrections-Special Application Unit (C-SAU), from operating in Allegheny County Jail (ACJ).

We have come together to denounce the Warden Harper’s attempt to hire Joseph Garcia, and his company, C-SAU, who were retained to teach members of ACJ’s Special Emergency Response Team (“SERT”) to comply with the May 18, 2021 referendum ban by applying Garcia’s militaristic tactics, which defy correctional standards and have resulted in serious injuries and even proven fatal. Not only do Garcia’s militaristic trainings make him unfit to usher in the referendum’s reforms and teach officers to use less force, but Garcia is also unsuitable because of his objectionable qualifications such as his past criminal conviction in a revenge-for-hire scheme and his having made racially derogatory remarks that equate Black people to dogs and advocacy in the belief that incarcerated people of color are intent on provoking a “racial war” against corrections officers.

The victims of Garcia’s militaristic trainings at ACJ will be pretrial detainees, the vast majority of which are people of color and those who have a serious mental illness (“SMI”)/psychiatric disability. We implore JOB members, who are statutorily responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of those confined at ACJ, to ban Garcia’s trainings, the “less lethal” weapons, Kel-Tec shotguns, and their ammunition from being used in the jail.

This recommendation is based on the facts found at this LINK, which are amply supported by credible evidence, including ACJ’s own state-reported data, assessments by prominent correctional experts, lawsuits stemming from Garcia’s trainings, and Garcia’s public statements in addition to other sources.


Images via Garcia’s social media.


FACT #1: Although most of ACJ’s population has a SMI, a corrections expert found that a lack of de-escalation training has contributed to officers routinely resorting to force in response to these individuals’ requests for treatment or due to manifestations of their mental health symptoms.

FACT #2: ACJ has the most uses of force against incarcerated people among all 67 jails in Pennsylvania. According to ACJ’s data for 2015–2019, uses of force, per capita, dramatically increased even as the jail’s population declined: Total uses of force (74% increase), Restraint chair (84% increase), Chemical agents (144% increase), Stun gun/taser (256% increase).

FACT #3: A corrections expert found that ACJ’s use of force policies and other systemic deficiencies amount to an intentional policy that permits officers to use force for any infraction, even minor ones, and that the lack of training on de-escalation and interacting with people with a SMI, and the practice by jail command staff to refrain from disciplining officers for excessive force, has created a culture of violence at the jail.

FACT #4: Warden Harper recently testified that SERT officers are deployed almost daily because they are required to respond to “every situation,” including “medical emergencies” even though they do not receive additional or specialized training for encountering people with a SMI.

FACT #5: The County and Warden Harper entered into a sole-source contract with Garcia without ever contacting several leading corrections experts, who have experience with advising and implementing reforms like those required by the referendum and, unlike Garcia, their instruction hasn’t resulted in serious injury or death of those confined.

FACT #6: Corrections experts, lawsuits, and former trainees confirm that Garcia DOES NOT provide adequate instruction on de-escalation/force avoidance skills, nor does he require officers to apply those skills in practice.

FACT #7: A corrections expert found that Garcia’s teachings about people with a SMI, including instructing officers to perceive them as violently mentally ill, to gain compliance through aggression and intimidation, and to refer to people with an intellectual disability as “mentally retarded”, defies correctional standards and needlessly escalates situations and may endanger those involved.

FACT #8: Garcia instructs corrections officers to use dangerous militaristic tactics such as blinding noncompliant individuals with laser shotguns and then shooting them with rubber bullets “until the pain convinces them to comply,” using physical violence such as eye gouges and multiple strikes to the head, tasing detainees for passive resistance, and other techniques, which corrections experts have found to violate correctional standards, and have repeatedly resulted in unnecessary serious harm.

FACT #9: Garcia’s racially discriminatory views, especially his preaching of a “racial war” instigated incarcerated individuals, who are predominately Black, against corrections officers, who are predominantly White, violate ACJ’s policies, and when ascribed to result in unconstitutional and discriminatory use of force.

FACT #10: Garcia frequently makes offensive ableist remarks about people with an intellectual disability, teaching officers to refer to them as “mentally retarded.”

FACT# 11: Garcia does not treat incarcerated people with dignity or respect as he instructs officers to view them as “enemies” to “combat”, “fight”, and “going to battle with.”


Video excerpts of promotional films made by Joseph Garcia and C-SAU. Publicly available on their social media accounts:

The aforementioned, well-supported facts should have disqualified Garcia from consideration. However, the JOB can right this wrong and protect the incarcerated people in your care from further harm.



1Hood Media

Abolitionist Law Center

Alliance for Police Accountability

ANSWER Coalition

Bukit Bail Fund

Casa San Jose

Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI) — West

Let’s Get Free: Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee

Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America

Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee (PPSC)

The Thomas Merton Center


Alissa DePiro

Kimberly Andrews

Kaitlin Sweeney

Jesse Wozniak

Nadia Narnor

Barbara Blackmond

Joshua Trapp

Marianne Stewart

Carol Nichols

Maria Guido

Gustaf Johnson

Adam Pennavaria

Michael Bagnato

Hannah Diehl

Samuel Brams

Michelle Smith

etta cetera

Stephanie Creasy

Jodi Lincoln

Ly Evangelista

Brandi Boyd

Emily Bertha

Juliette Rando

Joshua Palmer

Garrett Bower

Elizabeth Roberts

Eric Kellar

Eric Anderson

Martell Covington

Monica Ruiz

Tao Flaherty

Matthew Macar

Matthew Lamberti

Anne McCafferty

John Kenstowicz

Alex Davis

Salena Binnig

Ryan Whyte

Jorjanna Smith

Kieran McLean

Tonya Hall

Rachael Neffshade

Emilia Farmerie-Rishel

Ariel Weisman

Sinan Dogan

Hannah Fetter

Sebastian Peleato

Eric Grote

Lorenzo Rulli

David Casson

Natalie Trapuzzano

Nina Mulroy

Irene Surmik

Daniel Salahuddin

Sadie Powers

Helen Pratt

Beth Schongar

Elina Zhang

Emma Welker

Breanna Stanton

John Case

Gesina Phillips

Mikkie Ryan Freeman

Ted Sohier

Caro Pirri

Dominic Denuzzio

Talon Godin

Andrew Sherman (OPD)

Sumayya Saleh

Wesley Peters

Fred Gustafson

Elizabeth Howard

Norman Conti

Jay Tyan

Darwin Leuba

Emily Kane

Eliana Beigel

Ryan Whyte

MAN-E of Bukit Bail Fund

Kimberly Harriel

Tim Resciniti

Toy Slaughter

Aisha White

Vincent Kolb

Courtney Colligan

Ryan Bergman

Elizabeth Colligan

Victoria LaFave

Robin Chakravorty

Deidra Hubay

Lucas Goodwin

Elizabeth Kurtzman



Abolitionist Law Center

ALC is a nonprofit law firm fighting to protect prisoners, and a community organizing project aiming to build a world without prisons.