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A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 9, 2021
Largest settlement, book corrections, audit launch, overdose inaction, riot plea, protective orders, and a wonderful reunion. Hello again, it's Thursday.
'I CAN'T BREATHE'
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections will pay $8.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the family of a Philadelphia man who died at a state prison.

Tyrone Briggs was 29 when his family says corrections officers subjected him to prolonged streams of pepper spray, triggering a fatal asthma attack. He was overheard saying "I can't breathe," according to the suit

As part of the agreement, which is pending approval, the department said it would implement new protocols on the use of pepper spray. The settlement is the "largest ... ever paid for a state prison death in Pennsylvania," according to The Inquirer.

THE CONTEXT: The use of chemical munitions like pepper spray has grown inside prisons, with sometimes deadly results.

The Inquirer reports that, across the country, "at least five men have died in prisons and jails in the last two years after being doused with pepper spray."

According to the Abolitionist Law Center, which represented Briggs' mother, "training on the heightened risk that [oleoresin capsicum] spray poses to incarcerated asthmatics" will be mandated for all new hires and medical staff will have to attend additional annual training. 

"Tyrone’s life was treated as if he was disposable,” the center's executive director said in a statement.
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"Hopefully this new edition next year will finally correct these issues that have been prevalent and help get the story back on track."

—James Gregory, a doctoral student, on a publisher's plan to correct a criticized history book authored by state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin)
COVID-19 UPDATE: Pittsburgh Public Schools employees must be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19; the WHO says COVID-19 will mutate like the flu and is likely here to stay; and nearly 252,000 U.S. children have tested positive for COVID-19 as in-person classes resume. To find the vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).
📅 UPCOMING EVENTS
» FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS: Join us today at noon ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on addiction treatment oversight issues in Pennsylvania and how the state can keep people safe as they pursue recovery. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
📷 POST IT
A shot of the Shawnee Inn in Delaware, Pa. Looks like a great spot to cozy up this fall (which is fast approaching!). Thanks, Suzanne S.! Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
AUDIT LAUNCH: The first hearing in a relaunched GOP probe into Pennsylvania's 2020 general election and 2021 primary is scheduled for today. A state lawmaker backing the effort says subpoenas will be issued if the Wolf administration's election officials don't cooperate, and the Capital-Star reports those election officials confirm they won't.

NO ACTION: Pennsylvania is facing a "record-breaking" year for drug overdose deaths, yet the legislature is taking no action on the state’s problem-riddled addiction treatment centers, the Morning Call reports. State Sen. Katie Muth (D., Chester) told the paper corporate influence on the legislature might explain the lack of action.

GUILTY PLEA: Frank Scavo, a former school director and state legislative candidate from Old Forge, has pleaded guilty to a role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, per HuffPost. Meanwhile, a right-wing rally in support of charged insurrectionists is planned for D.C. on Sept. 18 and getting close attention from law enforcement officials, USA Today reports.

ORDERS REVEALED: Sean Parnell, the Trump-endorsed candidate for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, had protective orders placed against him by his wife in 2017 and 2018. The Inquirer reports the news, which had been simmering in political and media circles for months, was made public by one of Parnell's primary opponents this week.

STEPPING DOWN: Pittsburgh Public Schools' superintendent has resigned, effective Oct. 1, after the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission found Anthony Hamlet's travel, paid speeches, and financial disclosures violated the Ethics Act. TribLIVE reports Hamlet will receive $399,687 in severance, and an interim superintendent will be appointed by Sept. 29.
IN OTHER NEWS
WONDER YEARS: The stars of "That Thing You Do!" marked 25 years since the film's release with a return to Erie, the city where it all took place. Actors Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, and Thomas Everett Scott caught up with fans at a Seawolves game, Erie Times-News reports. 

CLUB CLOSED: The former site of a Pittsburgh club played by U2, the Police, the Ramones, Jon Bon Jovi, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers before they were household names has been condemned by the city, per Patch. The Decade closed long ago, and the building that housed it is now considered unsafe.

ROLLING LOUD: A guerilla roller disco party took over a newly made traffic circle in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood this week. The good times can keep rolling, at least until the cars show up, per Billy Penn. 

DOGGIE BRAG: A beagle mix named Boone is a therapy dog at Pittsburgh International Airport and, as of Tuesday, he's also one of seven finalists for an American Humane Hero Dog Award, City Paper reports.

SNACK ATTACKS: Thrillist named Auntie Anne's Pennsylvania's favorite spot for a "post-game snack," to which Pennsylvania Twitter said: "Are you sure?" The confusion went nationwide, judging by the replies to this tweet.
THE SCRAMBLER
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.
 
G O T I D H N P H
 
Yesterday's answer: Eponymous

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Michelle T., Jessica K., Doris T., Mike B., Susan D., Susan N., George S., Dennis M., Don H., Kim C., Connie K., Irene R., David W., Mark O., Diane P., Bill S., Carol D., Joel S., Craig E., Neal W., Suzanne S., Beth T., Elizabeth W., and Judith D.
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Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

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