Watch: What does it mean to be an ‘ally?’

In Pittsburgh, we hear a lot of talk about making Pittsburgh a city for all. And, residents are responding to the city’s changing identity and demographics in many ways — some with love and some with hate.

For an intimate look at how allyship is defined and perceived in our region, we spoke with four Pittsburghers who are thinking about allyship as it pertains to personal and professional relationships.

A sign indicates the entrance to the PERSAD Center in Lawrenceville, one of the two PERSAD locations in Western Pa. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

How PERSAD Center is dealing with sudden leadership changes and concerns about a no-show policy for its LGBTQ patients

Under the nonprofit’s “no-show” attendance policy, clients get discharged from services if they miss three appointments in six months. This policy is not new, but PERSAD only began reviewing the policy with patients and asking them to sign it in the fall. And concern over this policy is not the only upheaval occurring at PERSAD.

There’s a tool that claims to predict potential for criminal behavior. Should PA judges use it in sentencing?

The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing is considering a “risk assessment” tool, which, according to social justice activists, would reinforce existing bias in the criminal justice system. But the tool’s designers say it would give judges more data to base sentencing decisions on as opposed to primarily relying on uniform guidelines.

The commission is hearing public feedback about the risk assessment tool on Thursday, Dec. 13, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Allegheny County Courthouse (436 Grant St., Pittsburgh).

Terri Clark now works in politics and has served on the 12th District 20th Ward Democratic Committee since May. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

I spent 17 days in solitary for having two onions in my cell. The isolation changed me.

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. I served roughly 16 years in the Muncy State Correctional Institution for possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine. All those years in prison pale in comparison to the 17 days I spent in solitary in 1992. Only two months into my time, I was sent to the segregated housing unit [the SHU]. My infraction: I had two onions in my room.

Raymond Miles served 16 months in solitary confinement at the State Correctional Institution in Somerset. The time in solitary, which started in 2006, changed his life forever. (Photo by Yeshua David/PublicSource)

Panic, retreat, misery: For Ray, 16 months in solitary confinement has had lasting effects

Editor's note: This story is part of a three-part series about Pennsylvania's use of solitary confinement and the effects it has on inmates who endure it. The focus on this topic is the result of the reporter's participation in the 2018 John Jay/Langeloth Foundation Fellowship on “Reinventing Solitary Confinement.”

Raymond Miles served 16 months in solitary confinement at the State Correctional Institution in Somerset — 16 months of cinder-block walls, constant noise, filth and little contact with other humans. Some days, Ray says he was locked in a full 24 hours. The time in solitary, which started in 2006, changed his life forever. Years later, he says he’s still coping.

Don Carter (left), director of the Remaking Cities Institute, and Alan Mallach, an expert in community development. (Photo by Mark Kramer/PublicSource)

What’s even more alarming than gentrification? One researcher urges cities like Pittsburgh to take a broader view.

Community development guru Alan Mallach points to the rise of “eds and meds” and the influx of young, educated professionals into urban areas as major trends that have transformed Pittsburgh and other American cities over the last two decades, bringing investment and jobs to many declining neighborhoods. “Taken as a whole, American cities, particularly older cities, are doing better than at any point really since the 1960s,” he said at a lecture Tuesday evening at Carnegie Mellon University. “This is an amazing revival, and it’s worth celebrating.”

He’s quick to note, though, that such progress is only half the story: “At the same time, for people who live in those cities, more of them are living in poverty, more of them are living in substandard housing and in neighborhoods that do not provide a decent quality of life. At the same time that our cities are drawing thousands of jobs and billions in new investment, more people live in these cities who lack jobs and opportunities.”

In Pittsburgh, young professionals are moving into such neighborhoods as Lawrenceville, East Liberty and the South Side, driving a surge in development, while long-time residents are leaving. Fewer people are living in predominantly white working-class and black neighborhoods, such as Homewood and the Hill District, and those who do are, on average, lower income and older.