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Shuman Juvenile Detention Center Will Close In September

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Allegheny County announced Monday that the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center will close on Sept. 18.

The news comes after the state pulled the center's operating license last week.

"At my recommendation, we are moving forward to close the facility. The licensing at the facility has been an ongoing issue," said Allegheny County Manager William McKain in a release. "Over the last six years, we have put additional resources into the facility, supported new leadership and efforts by the professionals running the center, and continued to work with the Courts and the state on alternatives. Yet, we continued to see violations that were only exacerbated during the pandemic with staffing challenges."

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"I have accepted the recommendation from County Manager McKain to close the facility," said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in the release. "His decision was based on an ongoing review of Shuman's day-to-day operations and challenges with licensure, and I trust his opinion. Ultimately this is the best decision for taxpayers and for the youth that Shuman has served."

Shuman's troubles are not new. A slew of allegations of workers abusing residents back in 2013 prompted a county investigation and vows for reform.

But after a string of provisional licenses, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services said enough is enough and revoked the license, ordering the center shut down in 30 days. This came after a new report of a resident overdosing on heroin.

"Something is wrong, obviously, because we can't get by the provisional licensure," said Duquesne University's Tiffany Sizemore. "Whether it's one issue one time or another issue another time."

The state put the facility on provisional status in March 2019 after citing it for a worker pushing a resident and not hospitalizing other residents who were seriously injured. The state issued a second provisional license when the center failed to notify the state of a resident's suicide attempt.

A third came in March of 2020 when a resident who was suicidal wasn't reported or properly monitored. A fourth provisional license was issued just last month after a resident overdosed on heroin and had to be revived with Narcan.

The state moved to revoke the license last week, reporting that another resident had not been given his or her required medication for weeks, citing the county for "continued failure to follow regulations and failure to improve on past violations."

Sizemore, a Duquesne law professor, runs the Youth Advocacy Clinic and fears Shuman residents will be moved to other counties where parents could no longer visit them by bus.

The county had 10 days to appeal but decided late Monday to shut the facility down permanently.

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