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Heroin: Riding the Rush

Drug courts at odds with each other and the feds

In Allegheny County, Judge Lester Nauhaus sees his drug court as an alternative to the carnage of the drug war.

Drugs drive crime. But locking up addicts doesn’t stop crime. Nor does it stop drug addiction.

“Nail ‘em and jail ‘em wasn’t working,” Nauhaus told PublicSource in an interview. “All it was doing was costing everybody a fortune.”

The power of the PA Millennial boom

This year, the Millennial generation will eclipse the Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, totaling 75.3 million, according to U.S. Census data.

For our purposes, the Millennials are that broad group born between 1981 and 1997, making them between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2015, as defined by the Pew Research Center.

In Pennsylvania, there are more than 2.8 million of them. More than half a million of them are concentrated in Pennsylvania’s two largest cities, with more than 450,000 living in Philadelphia and more than 100,000 in Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County police still keep many records on paper

Want to check out a police report? Welcome to the file cabinet

For the Allegheny County Police Department, searching for details on past crimes sometimes calls for cabinet duty.

That means a team of detectives literally thumbing through paper records in old-fashioned file cabinets.

That’s how police work was done before computers and before officers elsewhere could access databases from handheld devices.

Regulators to probe PA union-backed nonprofit

PHILADELPHIA — State election regulators will investigate whether Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a liberal nonprofit that repeatedly criticized former Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett and other conservative politicians, violated political disclosure laws.

The aftermath of the CSX Bakken crude oil train derailment in Mount Carbon, W. Va.

1.5 million at risk in PA for crude oil derailment

In Pennsylvania, nearly 1.5 million people are in potential danger if a train carrying crude oil derails and catches fire, according to a PublicSource analysis.

That is about one in every nine Pennsylvanians.

Bringing in more money, even after the campaign for PA governor is over

When the campaign for governor ends, the contributions and expenses don’t. As strange as it might sound, candidates can receive money after the election and a few people actually continue to give until Dec. 31.

Newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf raised $284,019 in contributions from 131 people and committees after the election. Former Gov. Tom Corbett received 96 contributions for $39,196 after he lost.

Uncommon compassion: Dying offenders seldom released in federal prison system

HARRISBURG – Linda Share fought for years to get her father home before he died.

Benjamin Share had been away for eight years. His kidneys were failing. He had congestive heart failure. His foot, an unnatural burgundy color, was swollen, and he had weeping sores that wouldn’t heal.

Marcellus Life

Marcellus Life: A Native American protest to stop a PA pipeline

Chief Carlos Whitewolf beat a small hand drum and sang a Native American prayer for Mother Earth in the cold January air in Hershey, Pa.

Many of the 50 or so other protesters outside the Hershey Lodge, where national Republican leaders attended a retreat, demonstrated against issues like the Keystone XL pipeline and climate change.

A flood of overtime for nurses at county nursing homes

Charged with considering a resident’s entire medical history during care, one registered nurse worked the equivalent of about 90 eight-hour overtime shifts in both 2012 and 2013.

That's just a slice of about 125,000 hours of overtime worked by the nursing staff of the four Kane nursing homes in each of those two years, according to county salary data analyzed by PublicSource.

Pittsburgh ‘dark money’ group could face IRS fine

Union-backed Pennsylvanians for Accountability failed to file mandatory tax return

Union-backed Pennsylvanians for Accountability, which spent more than $1 million on political advertisements targeting Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and a handful of state lawmakers, failed to file a mandatory tax return, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

Heroin: Riding the Rush

Agency battling drug crisis has big job, little state money

Update 1/19/2015: Gov.-elect Tom Wolf said that Secretary Gary Tennis will continue to lead the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

If officials are tuned in to the statewide heroin crisis that has killed thousands of Pennsylvanians, they apparently think it’s a cheap fix.

After six years of inaction, in 2010 the Pennsylvania General Assembly created the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, formerly a modest bureau tucked into the Department of Health.

Then they piled on a huge workload and gave it little money.

Avoid the guessing game in search for nursing home

Federal website will no longer use self-reported data

The responsibility of finding the right long-term care facility for his mother, whose memory is clouded by dementia, gnawed at Ron Clark.

Though he sometimes asks 88-year-old May Clark if she remembers him, she seems to know when her son needs consoling. She grips his thick palm, weathered from years as a power plant mechanic, and the familiar touch evokes a smile of relief.

Marcellus Life

Marcellus Life: A small town in Elk County struggles with rules for shale gas drilling

About a dozen St. Marys officials, outfitted with baggy blue jumpsuits, earplugs and white plastic hard hats, recently visited a Seneca Resources well pad on a wooded hilltop to see what fracking is all about.

This part of Pennsylvania, about 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Elk County, has been relatively untouched by shale drilling. But people see it coming in two test wells Seneca has there now, with more wells in the future.

Race and justice

The deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police has led to protests across the country, including in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and sparked a national conversation about the use of force by police. 

Heroin: Riding the Rush

Holly: One face of the national heroin crisis

Heroin is cheap, plentiful and extremely addictive, and it does not discriminate based on race, place or social standing. It’s in urban Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It’s in the suburbs. And it’s in places like Kittanning, a small river town in Western Pennsylvania where drugs used to be sold behind closed doors, and now they’re on the street corner.

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