The first provision in Pennsylvania law for the detention of juveniles was enacted July 2, 1901. "In every city of the first and second class there shall be provided a house of detention, for the reception of untried juvenile offenders and neglected and dependent children." (P.L. 601, Section 1) This legislation came out of the turn of the century movement to separate juveniles and adults in the justice system.
In 1899 Illinois established the nation's first Juvenile Court providing special court proceedings and auxiliary institutions such as detention, probation, and correctional schools. By 1945 every state had enacted legislation to establish Juvenile Courts. The first autonomous Juvenile Court in Pennsylvania was founded in Allegheny County in 1933.
In 1936 the Juvenile Court was built on Forbes Avenue in the Oakland District of Pittsburgh. Detention occupied the third and fourth floors of the building and served both delinquent and dependent children less than sixteen years of age. In 1938 the State amended the law, raising the age of jurisdiction to seventeen. In 1963, Allegheny County Children and Youth Services were founded to serve dependent youth. Within a few years, separate housing was established for dependent children, leaving only delinquent youth in detention.
During the 1960s, plans were initiated to build a new detention home due to increased population and the need for improved services. In December 1974, Shuman Juvenile Detention Center opened at 7150 Highland Drive in the East End of Pittsburgh.