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.

Kevin Hagen / AP

A man etched two SS bolts, a Nazi symbol, into pillars at the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP


On today's program: A preview of what to expect from the Supreme Court’s oral arguments this week; an epidemiologist explains what life might look like as Southwestern Pennsylvania prepares to reopen; nursing home workers bear the brunt of caring for coronavirus patients; and parents become teachers’ assistants as kids transition to online schooling. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County’s Jail Oversight Board on Thursday voted down a motion that would have directed the jail to test all inmates for the novel coronavirus. 

Lebanon County

A Pennsylvania inmate whose dreadlocks violated a jail's haircut policy has been released from solitary confinement after more than a year, although his federal lawsuit is still pending.

Casa San Jose


On today's program: How a lack of Spanish-language material about the coronavirus is affecting Pittsburgh’s Latinx community; an update on preparations ahead of the Pennsylvania primary in June; and an Erie-based ride-share driver shares his experience with the shutdown.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Twenty-four inmates at the Allegheny County Jail have now tested positive for COVID-19, triple the eight cases diagnosed on Sunday, according to a county website tracking the illness.

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh


On today's program: A new survey finds parents need more help and resources to deal with changes caused by coronavirus; Morning Edition’s David Greene discusses covering the pandemic for a national audience; why two rural PA counties were hit hardest by business closures; and WPIAL cancellations could impact scholarships and jobs for some student athletes. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: Custody exchanges are being adapted for social distancing measures; why misinformation and disinformation spread in uncertain times; what’s available for the thousands of Pennsylvanians who’ve filed for unemployment; and the pandemic’s impact on the coal industry. 

Courtesy of Denise Puglisi

Life at the Allegheny County Jail in the time of coronavirus is marked by fights over phone time, frenzied cleaning efforts, and tight quarters, according to a man who was freed from the facility just days ago.

Marc Levy / AP


On today's program: Activists are calling on state officials to release certain prisoners to encourage social distancing in jails; IT departments are busier than ever as more companies are working from home; and an invasive weed could be an ally in defending against rising sea levels. 

90.5 WESA

Michael Broglie has been in Allegheny County Jail for nine months on a federal drug-conspiracy charge. His sister, Denise Puglisi, said he agreed to plead guilty for a sentence between eight and 14 months – which means in theory, he could be set free today. 

Wolf Suggests Pennsylvania Virus Cases Could Surge Next Week

Apr 10, 2020
Marc Levy / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf predicted Friday that Pennsylvania will see a surge in new virus cases next week and implored residents to continue to self-isolate to get the worst of the pandemic behind them and allow the state's economy to gradually open back up.

Death Row Inmates' Deal For Better Conditions Gets Approved

Apr 9, 2020
Marc Levy / AP

A federal judge signed off on a settlement Thursday between Pennsylvania death row prisoners and the state Corrections Department to make broad changes to their confinement rules.

U.S. District Judge John Jones approved the deal that gives the state's death-sentenced inmates the same conditions as inmates in general population, although they will continue to be segregated in special units at three prisons.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Since Gov. Tom Wolf issued his first stay-at-home order on March 23, State Police have issued three citations to people who allegedly failed to comply.

90.5 WESA

Prison-reform groups filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Allegheny County and county jail warden Orlando Harper Tuesday, warning that the facility is poised to suffer a severe outbreak of COVID-19 unless it takes more drastic measures. Hours later, the urgency of the issue was underlined when the county announced that an inmate had tested positive for COVID-19, about two weeks after a jail employee was diagnosed with the disease.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

During a federal court hearing Tuesday, a top Allegheny County Jail official offered new details Tuesday on measures the facility has taken to ward off a potential outbreak of COVID-19 within its walls. But critics warned the jail’s plan, and its execution, are riddled with shortcomings that put inmates and staff at heightened risk of infection.

Prosecutors Urge Lawmakers To Help Decide On Freeing Inmates

Apr 7, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

As officials consider releasing some inmates to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on Pennsylvania prisons, county prosecutors are telling lawmakers that passing legislation to address that would avoid leaving those decisions to the governor alone.

Dave Klug / AP

A federal judge has rejected a bid by the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting to have the death penalty removed as a potential sentencing option.

Lawyers for Robert Bowers argued that capital punishment violates the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause and the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Senior District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose noted in a trio of rulings Monday that courts have consistently upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty.



On today's program: PA’s attorney general is urging banks to voluntarily grant their customers grace periods; worries grow about health care inequity during the coronavirus outbreak; and most Americans seem to agree about a slow approach to reopening the economy.  

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: Diapers remain in short supply for some Western PA parents; CMU’s virtual tip jar already boasts 6,000 names; scientists worry that poor air quality could make the Pittsburgh region more susceptible to coronavirus; and without reliable internet, rural school districts are struggling to provide equitable education.

90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a request to order the wholesale release of prisoners held by jails in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. But in a partial win for prison-reform advocates, the Court ordered county judges and officials to do what they could to minimize the threat of the coronavirus behind bars.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania corrections secretary John Wetzel said earlier this week that his department is taking steps to reduce the state’s incarcerated population, in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus behind bars. But prison-reform advocates argue that more dramatic action is needed to remedy conditions that they say amount to cruel and unusual punishment.


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

With reports of bigotry against people of Asian descent on the rise, Democratic state lawmakers including state Senators Jay Costa (D-Forest Hills) and Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) are calling to address hate crimes in Pennsylvania.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: What to expect when venturing into city parks; 911 centers will know if they’re responding to COVID-19 patients; and scientists need help from amateur researchers.

What The Pennsylvania National Guard Does When The Governor Calls

Mar 31, 2020
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

More than 8,000 members of the National Guard have mobilized across the United States to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In an emergency petition Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania asked the state Supreme Court to order the mass release of inmates from county jails across the Commonwealth.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

Members of Allegheny County Council have abandoned legislation that would have mandated the release of jail inmates charged with low-level crimes. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld laws Thursday that require offenders deemed “sexually violent predators” to undergo lifetime counseling and registration and be the subject of community notices.

Courtesy of Northside Common Ministries

On today's program: How one homeless shelter is coping during the pandemic; why UPMC says elective procedures should proceed, even as resources remain tight; and farmers are declared life-sustaining, but it’s unclear where they can sell their food.

Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Gov. Tom Wolf’s authority to shutter businesses determined to be “non-life-sustaining,” paving the way for enforcement to begin Monday.