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.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A judge has dismissed the charges against one of two men accused of killing five adults, including a pregnant woman, at a western Pennsylvania cookout almost four years ago.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The auditor general says a five-year overhaul of Pennsylvania’s statewide radio network is going according to plan. 

The system — used by police and other emergency responders — had been plagued by problems and cost overruns for decades.  

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: FBI Pittsburgh hopes to apply the cyber security lessons of 2016 to 2020; the U.S. Census Bureau needs many more numerators ahead of this year’s count; a Point Park initiative goes beyond basic survival needs for the city’s homeless; and Philadelphia honors native son Kobe Bryant after the basketball star’s tragic death. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A monument honoring voting rights for African American men and women will soon be built on Pennsylvania's Capitol grounds.

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences / Carnegie Mellon University

On today's program: Students share how poetry gives voice to their experiences; PA voters get introspective about their media diets; what it takes to cut energy use in state-owned buildings; and a new memoir explores the taboo subject of abuse in queer relationships.

Patrick Doyle / 90.5 WESA

Some of the last big changes Pennsylvania made to its juvenile justice system came almost a decade ago, after the “kids for cash” scandal in which judges in Luzerne County took bribes for keeping minors in private detention facilities.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds gathered outside of the Pittsburgh City-County Building in the freezing rain on Saturday for the fourth annual Women's March. Attendees heard from several political candidates, mostly women, running for elected office this year and then marched from the City-County Building to Market Square. 

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that he will follow through on his plan to close another state prison, announced originally in August as a cost-cutting step amid a declining inmate population and rising prison costs.

PA Moves To Close Another Prison As Incarceration Rates Drop

Jan 16, 2020
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

After a hot mic incident, two heated community meetings, and months of debate, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections moved Wednesday to close State Correctional Institute Retreat, a 1,200 bed facility in Luzerne County.

Delta Foundation via Facebook

Gary Van Horn stepped down as president of the Delta Foundation Monday, as he faces criminal charges filed last month. But Pittsburgh may not have heard the last of him, thanks to the LGBT advocacy group’s bylaws.

Ex-Player Sues Penn State Over Football Hazing Allegations

Jan 14, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A former Penn State football player claims in a lawsuit that Nittany Lions players hazed him and other younger teammates by imitating sexual acts in the shower and invoking Jerry Sandusky's name.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The Republican-controlled state House has kicked off its first voting session of the new year with a slate of proposals aimed at keeping people who commit certain crimes in jail longer.

But so far, they’ve only pushed one through the chamber.  

The measure that passed the House affects people convicted of committing multiple crimes with firearms.

Michael Drazdzinski / The University of Pittsburgh / Anthem Press


On today's program: The longtime head of the Delta Foundation has stepped down; New Light Congregation makes a decision about its future; a new book looks at how police-community relations have evolved a decade since the Jordan Miles case; and it’s too early to call, but the Penguins could be eyeing another Stanley Cup run. 

Delta Foundation via Facebook

Gary Van Horn, the longtime head of the city’s highest-profile LGBT organization, resigned this Monday, says Delta Foundation interim board president Jim Sheppard. 

Ed Mahon / PA Post

 The Pennsylvania State Police are providing guidance to gun dealers about how to perform background checks for selling partially manufactured gun frames that can be readily converted into firearms.


In a story about local population decline that officials are actually celebrating, the average daily population in the Allegheny County Jail has fallen 7 percent since late 2017, according to a report the county released this week.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It’s been one year since Body Euphoria Inclusive Massage Therapy opened in upper Lawrenceville. The business is owned and operated by Eli Shumaker, a massage therapist who says he wanted to create a positive experience for his clients, especially those who identify as LGBT.

Judge Says Parents Can Sue Diocese Over Abuse Reporting

Jan 8, 2020
Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers.

Uniontown's New Treasurer Says Racist Officials Won't Seat Her

Jan 8, 2020
Google Maps

The newly elected treasurer of a small city in western Pennsylvania asserted in a lawsuit Wednesday that city officials plotted to block her from taking office because she is black.

Uniontown Treasurer-elect Antoinette Hodge alleged that a city councilman, Martin Gatti, took action to prevent her from being sworn in as scheduled this week and called her a “colored girl” in a discussion with officials at a bonding agency.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: Meet the PSO’s new principal pops conductor; a look back at 2020’s potential biggest business story; why a judge would bar reporters from the courtroom in a capital murder case; a new book explores the business of immortality; and how residents are affected when their neighborhood becomes a hotbed for development.

Keith Srakocic / AP


On today's program: Gov. Tom Wolf discusses the odds of a minimum wage hike in Pennsylvania; a local woman empowers her neighbors in the "forgotten" West End; and advocates are hoping a change in state law could restore thousands of suspended or revoked drivers licenses. 

Philadelphia Names 1st Black Female Police Chief

Dec 31, 2019
Craig Mitchelldyer / AP

The first black woman named to lead Philadelphia’s troubled police department pledged to be a “conduit” between the community and police and to address the racist and sexist tensions dividing the force.

Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney named Portland Chief Danielle Outlaw to the job on Monday, four months after the last commissioner resigned abruptly in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Dave Klug / AP

Lawyers for the suspect in the synagogue shooting that killed 11 people in Pittsburgh have challenged the potential death sentence as unconstitutional.

Pennsylvania Dioceses Offer $84M To 564 Clergy Abuse Victims

Dec 26, 2019
Julio Cortez / AP

Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have paid nearly $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse, a tally that’s sure to grow substantially in the new year as compensation fund administrators work through a backlog of claims, according to an Associated Press review.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

To hold jobs like accountant, nurse or funeral director, Pennsylvanians must first obtain a license. Licensing boards today can automatically deny certification to those with criminal records. But last week the state House voted 193 to 4 to change that policy, in a bill similar to one the Senate passed in November.

Poorest PA Families Struggle Through Holidays As Cash Welfare Stuck At 1990s Levels

Dec 23, 2019
Matt Smith / Keystone Crossroads

Christmas is Carissa Coolbaugh’s favorite holiday.

Huntingdon Passes LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Law, A First For Rural PA

Dec 23, 2019
Emma Lee / WHYY

It was a 2010 announcement about a Civil War cemetery that galvanized 58-year-old Anthony Bullett to act.

Pennsylvania Takes More Steps To Reduce Prison Population

Dec 19, 2019
Carolyn Kaster / AP

Pennsylvania enacted a new law Wednesday that is designed to limit the stays of lower-risk offenders in prison in its latest effort to reduce the state's prison population and to stop first-time offenders from becoming repeat offenders.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

For the first 15 years that Rodger Ollis worked as a police officer, he walked away from a lot of domestic abuse calls wondering if he had done enough.

Marc Levy / AP

The state House has taken a significant step toward passing a long-awaited package of criminal justice overhauls—moving two of the three bills out of the chamber and to the Senate for concurrence.