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.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Pennsylvania’s governor approved legislation Tuesday to give future victims of child sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits and to end time limits for police to file criminal charges.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said Monday that he has one goal for his tenure in Harrisburg that eclipses all the others: to make sure people don’t needlessly die in prison.

Courtesy Urban Rural Action

People from Adams and Philadelphia counties are hoping their shared views on the criminal justice system can make a difference. 

Catholic Church Boards Reviewing Sex Abuse Fail Victims

Nov 21, 2019
Gregory Bull / AP

Facing thousands of cases of clergy sex abuse, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest crisis in the modern era with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.

Marc Levy / AP

Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) has been trying to overhaul Pennsylvania’s statutes of limitations on child sexual abuse ever since he joined the state House seven years ago.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Two former altar boys have filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh over allegations that a priest sexually abused them in the 1980s.

The Tribune-Review reports the suit was filed Tuesday in Allegheny County Court. It also names Bishop David A. Zubik and St. Alphonsus Church in McDonald as defendants.

The plaintiffs say they endured almost daily abuse by the Rev. Francis Pucci, starting in 1981 when they were 11 and 13.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The state House is moving a raft of bills aimed at making prison guards safer by, among other things, establishing longer sentences for inmates who assault staff.

Marc Levy / AP

Conditions in state prison are changing dramatically for the 136 people sitting on death row in Pennsylvania, thanks to a settlement the Department of Corrections made Monday with the American Civil Liberties and several other inmates’ rights groups. 

13 Prison Employees Suspended In Pennsylvania Inmate Death

Nov 17, 2019
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Thirteen employees at a Pennsylvania state prison have been suspended without pay while the agency investigates the death of an inmate last week.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

An 88-year-old Roman Catholic priest awaits sentencing after a judge in Pittsburgh convicted him of indecent assault and other charges involving a pre-teen boy. 

Jacqueline Larma / AP

People urging Gov. Tom Wolf's administration not to close Retreat State Prison will get a second chance to be heard after a microphone picked up Corrections Secretary John Wetzel during a public hearing whispering to a deputy that he was only pretending to pay attention.

Nicklas Supply


On today's program: A conversation about social responsibility when it comes to hate; Obama-era coal pollution rules could dissolve; U.S. hardwoods profit margins are getting axed by the trade war; and more companies in Pittsburgh are giving their employees a say in major decisions. 

Allegheny County Police

A man who opened fire on police officers in Pittsburgh is in critical condition after an officer returned fire.

Officers had responded to a report of a domestic disturbance just before 11 p.m. Wednesday in the city's Crafton Heights section.

Police say officers heard gunshots coming from inside the home. They say 31-year-old Issa Abdus-Salaam appeared at the front door and started shooting. An officer shot him at least once.

A woman and two children who were in the home were not injured.

Courtesy of Dr. Lawrence Drake II


On today's program: Tuesday’s election results are in; as school lunch debt grows, "lunch shaming" returns; a peek inside a hemp processing facility as Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp growing season comes to a close; a Pittsburgh author finds brotherhood with other grieving black fathers; and new research asks if doctors receive gifts from opioid manufacturers, will they prescribe more? 

Gene Russell / Adagio Health


On today's program: The NCAA is changing its tune on compensation for college athletes; a historic society honors Hazelwoods past and future; what to consider when lighting up your wood-burning fire pits this Autumn; and a new portrait series honors the thousands of local women who served in the armed forces.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Penn State is investigating a new allegation of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky.

The alleged sexual assault took place in the Lasch Football Building on the University Park campus between June 1, 2000, and Sept. 30, 2010.

According to a Tuesday police report, the alleged victim was a visitor who knew the person they say sexually assaulted them.

The offenses are listed as rape or attempted rape and sex offenses 36B. That’s non-forcible statutory rape.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter will not go on trial before October 2020. U.S. District Judge Donnetta Ambrose said Thursday that proceedings will start sometime after the Jewish high holidays next fall.


NewStart.Media / West Virginia University

On today's program: A new WVU program clams newspapers are in a buyer’s market; cybercrime is on the rise in Pittsburgh; a local artist fits his enormous murals into a new book; a state senator wants to strengthen PA’s campaign finance laws; and a preview of Tuesday’s biggest race. 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to spending more than $10 million on upgraded body cameras and stun guns for city police. 


A federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the family of a black teenager killed by a white Pennsylvania police officer has been settled for $2 million, a newspaper reported.

Allegheny County

A woman accused of having kidnapped a toddler near Pittsburgh has now been charged with criminal homicide in the child's death last month.

Allegheny County police say 25-year-old Sharena Islam Nancy was charged with criminal homicide and abuse of a corpse in the death of Nalani Johnson, who was about to have her second birthday.

Nancy, who authorities say had been romantically involved with the child's father, was earlier charged with kidnapping of a minor, concealing the whereabouts of a child, and custodial interference.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

Eleven candles were lit at a vigil in Pittsburgh Sunday evening to remember the 11 Jewish worshipers who were killed a year ago at the Tree of Life synagogue. The shooting was the worst anti-Semitic attack on American soil in U.S. history.

Mike Stewart / AP

Often, women’s public bathrooms don’t provide menstrual products—and if they do, they usually cost money.

Keith Srakocic / AP


On this special report: One year ago today, 11 people were killed and five others wounded at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. It remains the most deadly anti-Semitic attack on American soil. 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence presents a look back at the hurt and healing that has transpired since. 

Google Maps

People with criminal histories can explore options for erasing their records at a clinic in Homewood Saturday. The Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office will host the event, at the Carnegie Library of Homewood from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: Two journalists reflect on covering Pittsburgh’s Jewish community; some Tree of Life members are at odds with seeking the death penalty against the alleged gunman; police are still grappling with the trauma of responding to the scene of the attack; how a graphic design inspired unity in the city; and mourners organize events to bring members of the community back together. 

90.5 WESA

A new study from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania finds that the use of cash bail in Allegheny County dropped by about 9 percent between early 2018 and early 2019. But the civil liberties group says too many people await trial behind bars simply because they can't afford to post bond.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Sunday marks one year since the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and several events have been scheduled in an effort to help people grieve and heal. 

Margaret J. Krauss / WESA

The shooting at Tree of Life synagogue last year took 11 lives and impacted countless others. For the officers who rushed to the scene that day, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Sergeant Carla Kearns said the first anniversary, like any significant trauma, may be the toughest.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Federal prosecutors announced in August that they will pursue the death penalty against the man accused of killing 11 at the Tree of Life synagogue last October. They argued in a court filing that one reason the attack was especially nefarious was because it stemmed from the defendant’s hatred for Jews.