Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It’s illegal to drive all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on city streets. But Pittsburgh Police claim last summer large groups were often roving through neighborhoods. Now local law enforcement is vowing to, “Put an end to these dangerous and disruptive ride-outs in the city.”

90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani was sued in federal court Tuesday for allegedly barring volunteer court observers from virtually attending hearings in his courtroom.

Anthony Orozco / WITF

Seven families — 25 people in all — who had been held by immigration authorities at the Berks County Residential Center have been released to live with sponsors across the nation.

PA Court Officials Discuss Reform For People With Autism

Mar 1, 2021

Courts across Pennsylvania are considering how to adapt the justice system for people with autism. Court officials in the Lehigh Valley on Feb. 23 discussed different ways people on the spectrum experience judicial proceedings. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Monday he will relinquish that title to a colleague in a few months but stay on the court until his full retirement at year's end.

Julie Bennett / AP

A federal grand jury has indicted the former administrator of a local nursing home, alleging that the administrator directed employees to over-report their work hours in order to satisfy federal staffing requirements.

Medically Vulnerable Immigrants In PA Face Possible Re-Detention, Advocates Say

Feb 19, 2021
Courtesy of Jesus Angel Juarez Pantoja

Eighteen medically vulnerable immigrants, some of whom have spent most of their lives in the United States, could be re-arrested and sent to Pennsylvania jails while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, according to their attorneys.

Pennsylvania State Police Will Escape Legislative Scrutiny In 2021 Budget Process

Feb 17, 2021
Charles Fox / Philadelphia Inquirer

One of the nation’s largest statewide police forces, the Pennsylvania State Police, will not be subject to annual budget hearings, shielding the department from lawmakers who have used the forum in the past to question officials and hold them accountable.

Black Man Sues Western PA Officer For Excessive Force, Firing Weapon

Feb 17, 2021
Screengrab via AP

Emmitt Willis remembers the heat of the gun that had just fired a few inches from his back. He remembers waiting to see if he felt pain and fearing another shot might come.

After State Blunder, PA Abuse Victims Ask: 'Who The Hell Are We Supposed To Trust?'

Feb 17, 2021
Courtesy of Dougherty / Keystone Crossroads

The news that Pennsylvania had screwed up the process for putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would allow victims of decades-old sexual abuse to sue hit Jay Sefton hard.

He had let himself hope that things were finally about to change.

“[It] was a real dark wave that came over,” said Sefton, now a therapist in Massachusetts, who says he was abused by a priest in Havertown in 1985.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Activists are one step closer to asking local voters to curb the use of solitary confinement at the Allegheny County Jail and to ban no-knock search warrants within the city of Pittsburgh.

Latino Leaders In PA Work To Build Trust In Vaccines

Feb 16, 2021
Matt Slocum / AP

When Delfin Vasquez got his first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine in January, he made sure to post the news on Facebook for all of his friends to see.

Elizabeth Robertson / Philadelphia Inqurier

It was late August, just past noon, and time was running out.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Thirteen Pennsylvanians who had been serving life in prison are now going free, after a state board recommended them for release and Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on their commutation this week.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

State pardons officials and prisoner rights advocates continued their push Friday to expand chances for release for the roughly 1,200 Pennsylvanians serving life sentences for felony-murder.

Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf's office announced Friday he has commuted the life sentences of 13 Pennsylvania inmates, clearing the way for their release to halfway houses.


 Federal prosecutors on Wednesday appealed the release of a Pennsylvania woman accused of using a large pipe to break a window in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. and giving directions to fellow insurrectionists about how to take the building.

Jose F. Moreno / Philadelphia Inquirer

The Wolf administration had no system in place to prevent an apparent administrative mistake like the one that derailed a statewide vote on legal recourse for survivors of decades-old sexual abuse, Spotlight PA has learned.

Dan Nott / Spotlight PA

In the weeks since Pennsylvania began its coronavirus vaccine rollout, the Wolf administration has stood by its localized, do-it-yourself system for finding and booking appointments, despite widespread frustration among residents.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case is being called the first of its kind, challenging the fate of inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Evan Vucci / AP

The Biden administration’s new executive orders on immigration seek to address some of the last president’s most controversial policies, and will have repercussions for immigrant communities and families in detention across Pennsylvania.

Courtesy of CASA / WITF

After President Joe Biden signed three executive orders dealing with immigrant family separation and asylum seekers, activists from Pennsylvania and other states convened Wednesday in Washington D.C.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

On today's program: New Pittsburgh police recruits receive training to address the needs of unhoused residents; and author Pam Muñoz Ryan discusses themes in her latest book ahead of her talk this Sunday with Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures. 

Jose F. Moreno / Philadelphia Inquirer

The Department of Corrections is reporting flawed data to keep inmates, families, and public officials informed about COVID-19 in its prisons, raising questions about the agency’s ability to accurately track the extent of the outbreak.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Advocates for corrections officers and inmates are raising alarms about the lack of COVID-19 vaccines targeted to state prisons and county jails.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Sanctuary leaders in Pennsylvania and across the country were joined this week by 30 U.S. lawmakers in calling on President Joe Biden to expand his overhaul of the country’s immigration system.

Abolitionist Law Center

A man who suffered severe head trauma at an East Liberty protest in June is suing Pittsburgh officials. The civil rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff by attorneys Paul Jubas and Max Petrunya.

Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit 'Window' Moves Near Referendum

Jan 27, 2021
Seth Wenig / AP

The state House has given final approval to a proposal to change the Pennsylvania constitution to give alleged victims of child sexual abuse a retroactive two-year “window” in which to file civil lawsuits no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

Evan Vucci / AP

President Joe Biden’s flurry of day-one reversals of Trump-era immigration policies amounted to keeping campaign promises. It was also a welcomed shock to the system for some Latinos who have spent the last four years opposing former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Inquirer

In December 2017, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation to increase oversight for drug and alcohol recovery houses — a measure that lawmakers said was needed to fight the opioid epidemic and protect vulnerable people from being exploited.