PINJ | Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

Social Justice

New Book “This Is My Jail” Digs Deep on the History of Jails in America

by Jody DiPerna Melanie Newport is an historian who teaches urban history and criminal justice history at the University of Connecticut at Hartford. Her book, “This Is My Jail:  Local Politics and the Rise of Mass Incarceration” has just been released by the University of Pennsylvania Press.  Melanie Newport wanted to understand the history of…

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Incarcerated man with intellectual disabilities died of natural causes according to Allegheny County Medical Examiner

by Brittany Hailer Anthony Talotta, 57, an intellectually disabled man who died at UPMC Mercy in August after being transferred from the Allegheny County Jail, died of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office. Four men died of natural causes after entering the Allegheny County Jail in 2022, according…

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‘Try to do something’:  97-year-old Marion Damick shares 20-year history of attending Jail Oversight Board meetings

by Amy Whipple At the January Jail Oversight Board meeting, Marion Damick stands behind a podium—her shoulders barely clearing its top—and pulls the microphone way down. “Here I am,” she says.  She motions to the man who spoke before her. “What he said is absolutely true. You’ve done nothing, and that’s really a criminal offense.” She…

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PINJ has paid particular attention to the Allegheny County Jail throughout the pandemic, tracking the deaths of those in custody as well as the conditions incarcerated individuals have been forced to endure.

View all of our coverage on the Allegheny County Jail by clicking here.

More News

Exiles Living in a Church

By Kristin Kovacic, Belt Magazine It certainly isn’t cool, or edgy, or funny–the things people say about what it must be like to live in a church. It’s relentless. . . . Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee for ever and ever.—Psalm 83 St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist…

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In Pittsburgh, local journalism is worth the fight

Having two major news sources in the city owned by notoriously anti-worker management can’t be good. For local journalism to be good, local journalism jobs need to be good. By Noelle Mateer, Belt Magazine Local journalism is the best journalism, and I know this because I’ve seen its opposite. I grew up in Pennsylvania, went…

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Advocating for accommodations has been a constant, but largely quiet, struggle for college students with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990.

Read from our award-winning series, Leveling the Playing Field, here.

Books

Under Kaufmann’s Clock

By Nick Ripatrazone, Belt Magazine An issue of Time magazine dated February 3, 1947 contained a short profile of architect Richard Joseph Neutra, who “ranks second only to lordly Frank Lloyd Wright.” The author explains that Neutra’s designs were diverse and utilitarian; he designed schools and hospitals in Puerto Rico and made “a moated desert mansion” for…

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Rushdie and Free Speech, from Tehran to Pittsburgh

by Jody DiPerna, Belt Magazine Literature isn’t just under attack in Iran, China, or El Salvador Since the attempted assassination of the Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie as he prepared to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, I’ve been thinking about the ways that writers threaten the status quo by forcing us to…

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Doralee Brooks Opens Up About Poetry, Education and Everyday Beauty

by Jody DiPerna Life-long educator and poet Doralee Brooks named new Poet Laureate for Allegheny County. Doralee Brooks, the new poet Laureate for Allegheny County, wants to highlight and spotlight poetry’s intersections with other art forms — with music and with the visual and performing arts. This convergence of the poetic with hard-lived life, everyday…

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Education

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Education in Pittsburgh was upended in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly closed schools. Since then, as multiple virus waves have swept the nation, students have been in and out of physical classrooms, learning sometimes online, sometimes in person, sometimes not at all. How will they rebound?

Read more from Playing the Long Game here.

Commentary

Pa.’s criminal legal system increases overdose deaths and makes recovery impossible | Opinion

By Sean Fogler and Carla Sofronski , Pennsylvania Capital-Star In 2021, over 5,300 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to a preventable drug overdose. Pennsylvania policy makers and local government officials have led the charge in fueling this historic public health crisis. While there are many factors contributing to this horrific toll, Pennsylvania’s criminal legal system stands…

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The feds make it too hard for formerly incarcerated persons to access Social Security benefits | Opinion

By Jeffrey Abramowitz and TJ von Oehsen, Pennsylvania Capital-Star In Pennsylvania, far more people with disabilities have been incarcerated than are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This comes as no surprise to reentry advocates, who have been hearing about the issues that people with disabilities have in accessing and maintaining SSI for years. A recent…

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