PINJ | Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

Social Justice

Citations, fines, and terminated contracts: an inside look at the Allegheny County Jail health code violations

The jail has been cited by the Allegheny County Health Department 162 times since 2014. By Jake Dabkowski Since 2014, The Allegheny County Jail’s residential kitchen has received 162 health code violations from the Allegheny County Health Department. The jail has been cited for its pest management, plumbing, cleaning and sanitation, and handwashing facilities. In…

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A fourth person dies in Allegheny County Jail custody

By Brittany Hailer Victor Joseph Zilinek, 39, died Wednesday in the Allegheny County Jail, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner, marking the fourth in-custody death this year.   Past notifications to the Jail Oversight Board have included details of the circumstances leading to the death and the individual’s age. In the case of this death,…

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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.

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City of Asylum’s second annual international LitFest is a celebration of connectivity and translation

by Jody DiPerna By showcasing international writing and literature in translation, LitFest 2022 creates bridges in our turbulent times.  Featuring writers from Europe, Africa, and Central America, as well as international illustrators, translators and a theater collaboration, Pittsburgh International LitFest fits with City of Asylum’s mission: the intersection of art with contemporary life.  “We’re thinking…

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photo courtesy of Doralee Brooks

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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Mastriano’s education funding plan would devastate Pa.’s public schools, advocates say

by Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star Friday night lights going dark across Pennsylvania would be but one of the more visible impacts of Doug Mastriano’s public school funding plan, education advocates say. A projection of school funding and staffing reductions based on the Republican gubernatorial nominee’s public statements about eliminating school property taxes, slashing per-pupil spending…

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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.


A melange of history, lived experience and fable, Caitlyn Hunter’s first book is urgent, magical storytelling

With family stories leading the way, inherited photos sprinkled throughout, and cover art designed by her cousin, “Power in the Tongue” (Tolsun Books), really is a family affair. by Jody DiPerna Caitlyn Hunter is the repository and the spillway of her family’s intergenerational love, trauma and legend. In Hunter’s new book, she sets the tone…

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Student teachers and K-12 students help each other close pandemic learning gaps

By Mary Niederberger [Alana Mason, a kindergarten student at Manchester Academic Charter School, works with tutor Natalie DiGiorno. Photo by Heather Mull] Jaion Pollard, 7, stepped away from his laptop at The Pittsburgh Project’s Northside after school program, raised his hands in the air and danced. He had just provided his tutor with the correct answer to…

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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.


Response to the Allegheny County DA’s announcement to seek death penalty in cases 

Robert J. Perkins and Kelvin L. Morris In the past month alone, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office announced that it intends to seek the death penalty in several new cases. That is a bad idea. For many reasons. Putting aside the moral and religious questions of whether it is ever appropriate for the state…

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Pittsburgh is Still a Contested Symbol

By Ed Simon In his book, ‘An Alternative History of Pittsburgh’ released by Belt Press this summer, Ed Simon considers the history of Pittsburgh from the geologic formation of the region, dating back to about 300 million years ago, to present day. He has been thinking about Pittsburgh and all of the stories that go…

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