WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Harry Covert, Alexandria Jail's Dynamic PIO, Retires

Play associated audio

Harry Covert, left, who is retiring from his role as public information officer at the Alexandria jail.

The Alexandria sheriff's office is celebrating the retirement of Harry Covert, a man who transformed the city jail into a focus of international attention. 

Most jails don't usually have Russian TV crews and British journalists conducting regular visits. But this is the Alexandria jail, where Zacharias Moussaoui -- one of the terrorists convicted after 9/11 -- was incarcerated, and where New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent three months in jail while she refused to reveal her source in the Valerie Plame case.

In addition, no other jail has Harry Covert, a longtime newspaperman turned bail bondsman turned public information officer. Covert served as the Alexandria jail's PIO for five years, and has worked for more than half a century in the news and information business. 

"Harry has single-handedly in the past five years put the agency back on the map," says Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.

While most jails shun publicity, Covert actively attracted it, holding inmate graduation ceremonies, motivational speakers, and inviting international media. 

Covert was one-of-a-kind, says James Gordon Meek, a former journalist who is now a congressional investigator. 

"Harry Covert is, even amongst the public affairs people I've dealt with in a long 17-year journalism career, an extremely unusual guy, probably owing to the fact that he is a newspaperman, originally and to the heart," Meek says. 

Covert says putting the jail on the map was a highlight in his career. "Most people are afraid when they go to a jail to visit, but it's really not a place to be afraid of," he says. 

Covert officially retires this week.

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Sweet Name Of Kids' Clinic Gives Some People Heartburn

The Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic gets its name from a student-run charity race in Raleigh, N.C., that has already raised $1 million for kids. Still, some find the name unhealthy.

60 Years Later, What Can Activists Learn From The Montgomery Bus Boycott?

Decades after Rosa Parks changed history, a new generation faces the challenge of remaking the civil rights movement for the next century. What can they learn from the past to build for the future?

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.