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.


On today's program: Pennsylvania may consider allowing college athletes to get paid; encouraging natural gas development in the state could mean big changes at the DEP; a local man claims he lost a job after using medical marijuana; and unionized cleaners in Pittsburgh are fighting for better working conditions. 

Dave Klug / AP

Lawyers for the man accused of shooting to death 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue last year said in a filing Tuesday that the case would be over if federal prosecutors had accepted his offer to plead guilty in return for life-without-parole.

Parole System Could See Changes After Review Of Murder Cases

Oct 15, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

An internal review of Pennsylvania’s parole system spurred by five parolees getting charged in quick succession with homicide is, in theory, acknowledging a long-standing complaint of parole agents over a long-term policy shift designed to help more parolees succeed on the outside.

British Family Detained In PA By ICE: 'We Will Be Traumatized For The Rest Of Our Lives'

Oct 15, 2019
Laura Benshoff / WHYY

A British couple and their 3-month-old son are being detained in a federal immigration facility in Pennsylvania after they say they accidentally strayed across the U.S.-Canada border.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania’s prison system is launching a pilot program to test alternative corrections techniques — and they’re looking to Nordic countries for inspiration.

Brett Sholtis / WITF

A lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Ronald Gainer and the diocese’s former bishop, Kevin Rhoades, alleges the church turned a blind eye while a teacher drugged and raped a student.  

As PA Compensation Programs End, Church Victims Wrestle With The Price Put On Abuse

Oct 11, 2019
Natalie Piserchio / WHYY

Last year’s grand jury report detailing sexual assault allegations against 301 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania raised the question: how would the church respond?

Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads

A former chairman of Pennsylvania’s Board of Education, Larry Wittig, has been permanently banned from US Olympic sports for sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: More veterans are dying from suicide than on the battlefield; Crawford Grill could soon be a nationally recognized historic landmark; Pitt has appealed a renewed chance for its grad students to unionize; and there's a new database of addiction treatment and recovery resources across Pennsylvania.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The firm overseeing the Diocese of Pittsburgh's fund for victims of clergy sexual abuse says it’s received 367 claims. The deadline to apply was September 30.

Haven Daley / AP

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing Lebanon County’s court system and probation department over a decision to bar people on parole from using medical marijuana.

Matt Rourke / AP

On today's program: A conversation with U.S. Attorney Scott Brady on what's next in the Tree of Life shooting trial; a Perry Hilltop organization gives students trade skills; Pennsylvania's has one of the highest freight trucking rates in the country; and Port Authority expounds on its next 20 years. 

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Three cases headed to the Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday will determine if LGBTQ people are protected under federal employment discrimination laws. The arguments are particularly significant in Pennsylvania, one of the 28 states that do not have workplace protections for LGBTQ employees.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Protesters filled intersections and marched down Penn Avenue through the East End Friday night as part of the Protect Black Women march. 

Hundreds Of Accused Priests Living Under Radar With No Oversight

Oct 4, 2019
Frank Franklin II / AP

Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

After hours of sometimes-tearful testimony from panels that included legal experts, representatives of the Catholic Church and insurance industry, and people who were sexually abused as children, it remains unclear whether the state Senate will agree to change the rules governing child sex abuse cases.

The Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on long-stalled proposals to extend, and in some cases abolish, the statutes of limitations in those cases.

Ben Carmichael / Concord Academy

Medical and mental health care for transgender people is improving, but still has a ways to go. 

As Trump Slashes Refugee Arrivals, A Look At Who Has Been Resettling In PA

Oct 1, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Bohdan Krevskyi moved to Bucks County in August from the city of Lutsk, Ukraine. The 23-year-old evangelical Christian wasn’t fleeing war or famine, but hostility toward his religious beliefs.

New Chapter Opens In Pennsylvania In Fight Over Suing Church

Sep 30, 2019
Damian Dovarganes / AP

When post offices close Monday, the last victim compensation funds at Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses will also close, hours before lawmakers plunge back into a years-old fight over whether to let long-ago victims of child sexual abuse sue perpetrators and institutions that may have covered it up.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Between October 1 and October 21, most refugee arrivals to the United States will halt, several resettlement agencies have confirmed to Keystone Crossroads.

Ariel Worthy / WESA

Attorney David Shrager said the misdemeanor charges of simple assault against his clients — who were captured on video assaulting two black women at an Exxon Gas Station — were appropriate, and that a community-led attempt to elevate the charges to a felony level was not right. 

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Wednesday that the law would not allow him to charge three men with felony offenses for allegedly assaulting two black women at a gas station.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman explains the latest adjustment to Pittsburgh's federal BRT application; legislation would mandate adult changing tables in public venues; and the United Steelworkers will represent 90 tech workers contracted with Google.

Courtesy of Lamar Davis

Leon Ford rose to national prominence after he survived a police shooting in Pittsburgh nearly seven years ago. He became a leading voice for improved police-community relations, and even launched a campaign for Pittsburgh City Council.

Marc Levy / AP

On Tuesday afternoon, a state House committee is slated to start voting on a slew of bills related to gun violence.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Having a criminal record can make it harder to find work and housing, but a new local study asks whether it helps to have your record expunged.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Dozens of protesters gathered at the Brighton Road Exxon gas station on the North Side Monday morning to demand justice for two black women, after they were assaulted there Friday night.

But another day of protest seemed in store by day's end, when District Attorney Stephen Zappala's office announced that three men accused of being involved in the altercation were being charged with misdemeanor offenses -- charges far less serious than protesters had sought.

Google Maps

The violent assault of two black women at an Exxon Mobil on Brighton Road on Pittsburgh's North Side Friday night led Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers to file assault charges with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office.

City Prepares To Commemorate Tree Of Life Synagogue Attack

Sep 20, 2019
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

As Pittsburgh prepares to commemorate last year's deadly shooting at a synagogue, Jewish leaders say returning to the synagogue remains a priority. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

More than 16,000 people in Allegheny County could be impacted by a proposed change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The federal Department of Agriculture proposal would tighten restrictions for states that maintain a flexible income eligibility level for SNAP recipients.