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Are prison escapes like Cavalcante's common in Pa.?

Plus, hydrogen hub hype draws pushback.

The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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In today's edition: Jailbreak numbers, hub doubts, Irizarry update, anti-Amazon, Bizzarro's bid, and Temple's new president. Help us continue this vital work by supporting Spotlight PA & your gift will be DOUBLED.
Jailbreaks in Pennsylvania are less common than this past summer implies. 

High-profile escapes in Berks, Chester, and Warren Counties in recent weeks prompted hand-wringing by some law enforcement officials, but Spotlight PA crunched the numbers and found totals in decline. 

Read the full report: Jailbreaks not as common as recent events imply.

THE CONTEXT: There are thousands of people incarcerated in Pennsylvania jails every month, and only 14 “actual escapes” from confinement have been recorded in the past eight years, according to a Spotlight PA analysis.

There were 557 walk-aways — where someone leaves jail for an approved reason, often work release, and doesn't return — between 2015 and 2022.

And there have been two escapes from state-run prisons in the past 25 years: one in 2007 and one in 1997, according to state officials.

Spotlight PA found escapes from adult jails in Pennsylvania are down significantly from pre-pandemic years. 

"What this is about is the county executive and the courts conspiring together to attempt to supersede the authority that is given to us as council members."

—Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam on Tuesday's 9-4 council vote greenlighting a lawsuit against the county over its juvenile detention plan
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At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this September by visiting our Election Center website

» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts

» What to know about the judicial retention questions on Pa. ballots

» Una guía de los candidatos a la Corte Suprema del estado

» Una guía de los candidatos a la Commonwealth y las Cortes Superiores

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» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Lake Nockamixon in Nockamixon State Park, Quakertown, via Amy Z. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A lone bright puffy cloud is seen above a dock and lake in waning light.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.HYDROGEN HYPE: Pennsylvania officials, including Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro, want a hydrogen hub here as the federal government dangles up to $8 billion in nationwide incentives. But Inside Climate News reports critics argue the potential benefits are being oversold on everything from greenhouse gas reductions to job creation, and warn of higher prices for utility customers.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CASE DISMISSED: A Philadelphia judge has thrown out homicide and other charges against Officer Mark Dial, who fatally shot Eddie Irizarry, 27, in a scrutinized traffic stop last month. Police initially said Irizarry lunged at officers with a knife. Video showed otherwise. But Judge Wendy Pew said because Irizarry had a knife in his possession, Dial had reason to fear for his life and contrary evidence was lacking.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.AMAZON ANTITRUST: Pennsylvania has joined 16 states and the Federal Trade Commission in a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. The suit filed by the FTC and 17 attorneys general accuses the e-commerce giant of using "punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies," and says the company's practices affected customers and third-party sellers on the site.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
WARNING SHOT: Conservation and sporting groups say a last-minute amendment to a state budget-related bill could harm Pennsylvania's wildlife management efforts. Outdoor Life reports the plan involves diverting $150 million from the Game Commission’s Game Fund to a fund managed by the Department of Agriculture, but critics warn the move could violate federal law and imperil federal financial support.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TREASURY HUNT: State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D., Erie) is running for state treasurer and using abortion and Jan. 6, 2021 as "wedge issues" in a bid to oust GOP incumbent Stacy Garrity, the Associated Press reports. Garrity campaign adviser Dennis Roddy told the wire service that what Bizzarro is "attempting to do is to nationalize an election that has nothing to do with the issues he’s raising."
Join Spotlight PA for an exclusive event on equity and voting. Get your tickets now.

NEW LEADER: Temple University in Philadelphia has named former president Richard M. Englert as its interim leader following the sudden death of JoAnne Epps during a university event last week.

MENENDEZ CALL: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is the latest Democratic lawmaker from Pennsylvania to urge indicted Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez to resign, saying, "Public service is a sacred trust."

FREE BREAKFAST: Breakfast is free for all Pennsylvania students this year, but Pittsburgh's WESA reports a larger number of kids will benefit if schools offer more than just sit-down dining options.

SWIFT THEORY: You may have heard that noted Eagles fan Taylor Swift is palling around with Kansas City Chief Travis Kelce. Eagles fans are taking it well, by which we mean they're coping through conspiracy theories.

STREET VIEWS: A 10-year-old's destructive joyride through the streets of a Pittsburgh neighborhood in a Bobcat construction vehicle ended without injury on Monday but yielded lots of local reactions and video footage.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
Yesterday's answer: Tranquility
Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Nancy S., Stacy S., Eric F., Barbara F., Elaine C., Jane R., Richard A., Jill M., Kimberly D., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Susan D., Daniel M., Jon W., Marie B., Kim C., James B., Dennis M., Jack G., Tom M., Ronnee G., William Z., Stanley J., Rena Z., John P., Karyl S., Craig E., Amy D. S., and Judith D.
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