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Shuman Juvenile Detention Center Workers Plead With Allegheny County To Keep Facility Open

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There are still a lot of questions about what will become of the dozens of residents and workers at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.

On Monday, Allegheny County decided to close the facility next month after the state revoked its provisional license. Rather than contest the ruling, the county cites repeated efforts to comply and the center's $10 million operating budget.

"We made significant investments and cared and safeguarded for those children, but the state has revoked the license," said Allegheny County Manager William McKain.

On Tuesday, about two dozen workers gathered in front of the center pleading with Allegheny County to fight the state order and keep the center open.

"We're in a crisis. We don't know where we're sending kids. Maybe some kids will go here, maybe some kids will go there," said Tiffany Sizemore, who runs a youth legal clinic at Duquesne University.

After years of violations and four provisional licenses, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked the final license on Friday and ordered the center closed in 30 days.

But workers and youth advocates are asking the county to fight the order, fix the problems, and keep the center open.

The Service Employees International Union says some 90 people will lose their jobs, including youth care worker Stan Drummond, who's been at the center for 31 years.

"My concern is my co-workers, especially the young ones. They have mortgages, they have newborn kids, this is crazy. This is coming out of nowhere," Drummond said.

"We're hoping today that we can get the message out, not only to the public but to the county, that these workers deserve a chance to continue their careers here at Shuman Center," said Al Smith, an SEIU business agent.

Sizemore said without the center, young people will be held awaiting trial in other counties, where their families and attorneys can't easily visit.

"The county should have been prepared for the worst, and they should have had a plan in place for what to do with these kids," Sizemore said.

"That's a court decision. That's unfortunate. I do hear their concerns and hopefully, the courts will take that into consideration. But I make decisions that are in the best interest of the county," McKain said.

McKain says the county will work with the union to try to place Shuman's employees and with the courts to try to place the residents. But there's not much time, as the center is set to close on Sept. 16.

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