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Allegheny County: Reform Needed At Shuman Juvenile Detention Center

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The mission of the Shuman Center is to rehabilitate troubled youth; but after a seven-month investigation, Allegheny County has concluded that it is center itself that is need of reform.

"The policies and procures were lax," said Allegheny County Manager William McKain. "The [work] environment is one of lack of trust. And we need to have the right leadership in that center to take it where we all want it to go."

Last summer, current and former employees told KDKA the center was run by a cliquish management staff who covered up assaults on residents and staff and disciplined those who reported them.

"They're corrupt. I mean, I'm here today because I reported two workers smoking pot on the property, and the next day I get suspended from the job for reporting this," said Christine Dillard, a former employee.

KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan: "Did your investigation find unreported incidents?"

McKain: "Not specifically. However, there was enough information that did not make me feel comfortable under the current security measures; so effectively immediately, the county police will now be in charge of the building guards and the security measures of that center."

Just two weeks ago, county police arrested case worker Ronald White on simple assault charges for allegedly sucker punching a resident.

But the reforms go further to improve sunken morale.

The county will establish an employee relations committee; and to root out favoritism, do all future hiring through its human resources department, making the organization professional again.

"I think that we've lost sight of that, and that's one of the reasons why this investigation was done and that's why we're taking steps," McKain said.

And while many of the allegations couldn't be substantiated, the report finds ample room for reform and the county aims to return Shuman to its original mission of rehabilitating troubled kids.

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