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Proposal to reopen Shuman Juvenile Detention Center hits roadblock

Proposal to reopen Shuman Juvenile Detention Center hits roadblock
Proposal to reopen Shuman Juvenile Detention Center hits roadblock 03:14

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There's a proposal to reopen the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, but no government agency has stepped up to fund it.

The surge in violent juvenile crime has put communities on edge, with teenagers as young as 14 and 15 walking around with guns and using them at the slightest provocation. But when they're arrested, district justices like Eugene Ricciardi have no place to put them. The Shuman Juvenile Detention Center has been closed since September 2021.

"Juveniles with weapons, guns, burglaries, robberies, carjackings and what happens? The courts are sending them home, and why are we sending them home? There's no detention center," he said. "That is a disgrace. It's putting our community at risk."

When the state revoked its license for a third time, the county shut the center down and boarded it up. But last summer, it put out a request for proposals — offering up the property for sale or redevelopment, giving preference to any entity wanting to run it as a juvenile detention center.

Sources say in October, the private company Adelphoi offered to do just that, but those same sources said there's been a catch. The company is asking someone else to fund the needed renovations to the facility, and thus far neither the county nor the state has agreed to commit the funds. 

Ricciardi says it's past time for delays.

"We need a leader to stand up," he said. "It has to be soon. If not, the court should be involved. There should be a court order from our president judge saying open this detention center, keep our community safe and keep the juveniles safe."

The county has said it is no longer interested in running Shuman, and on Tuesday reiterated its offer to sell it to the state or any other operator for a detention center. The state Department of Human Services, which revoked Shuman's license 16 months ago, issued a statement, saying:

"The Department of Human Services is in regular conversations with Allegheny County about their detention needs and what options are available to support the county in its work to bring additional facilities into operation. These conversations are ongoing and we are committed to being a partner however we are able."

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