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Sojourner House Celebrates Success Beyond Sobriety

Courtesy of Sojourner House
Sojourner House residents, volunteers, staff and children who grew up in the program as far back as the 1990s participated in the facility's 25th anniversary celebration in 2016.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court made a controversial decision in December, ruling that women who use drugs during pregnancy are not guilty of child abuse. The case involved a woman who gave birth to a child with neo-natal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when a baby is withdrawing from drugs they were exposed to in the womb.

Joann Cyganovich, executive director of Sojourner House, says she's seen many cases like this one. Sojourner House provides residential treatment to addicted mothers and their children, and Cyganovich hopes that this ruling will encourage more women to seek out similar programs.

“It’s not the drug that’s causing the addiction, it’s the disease itself. And not everyone has that disease, but for those who do, Sojourner House does give them the opportunity to recover and the tools that they need.”

Find more information about Sojourner House here.

Credit Courtesy of Sojourner House
Courtesy of Sojourner House
Joann Cyganovich has led Sojourner House in Pittsburgh for nearly 12 years.

Later in the program:

A new state law makes it easier for counties to commit people with mental illnesses to outpatient services such as seeing a psychiatrist and getting prescriptions. Proponents of the law say that similar laws in other states have helped keep people with mental illnesses out of hospitals and prisons, but opponents are worried about coercion of patients and the cost of the program for counties. WITF’s Brett Sholtis reports.

first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections gets underway today in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg over mail between attorneys and their incarcerated clients. Pennsylvania is the first and only state prison system to copy and store correspondence between prisoners and their attorneys, but four prisoner rights groups, including the ACLU, say that this infringes on inmates’ rights. David Harris, professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh and 90.5 WESA’s legal analyst joins The Confluence to discuss the case.

And last November, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order creating the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission. The commission has its first business meeting this month and will start a series of nine public meetings across the commonwealth in March. Its chairman, David Thornburgh, explains his goals, which include creating a process for redistricting that people trust and understand.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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