Shuman Center has been in operation since 1974 and is the juvenile detention center for Allegheny County. When a child is brought to the center, a juvenile court intake officer makes a basic assessment as to whether the court has jurisdiction. Jurisdiction extends to Allegheny County youth between the ages of ten and seventeen who are accused of a delinquent offense. After establishing jurisdiction, the intake officer weighs the seriousness of the charge and decides whether to detain or release the child. A decision to detain is based on several considerations such as a need to protect the person and property of others, a need to insure a court appearance, other resources have been tried and failed, and compelling reasons showing that placement with parents or guardians is not possible.
The law provides that all detained children have a detention hearing before a judge or hearing officer within 72 hours of admission to determine the need for further detention. If the child is detained, a full hearing on the charges must be held within 10 days. Juvenile court makes the final decision about a resident's release from detention. On average, youths are released to the following placements:
- Home or Foster Placement
- Residential Treatment Programs
- Day Treatment
- Group Homes
- State Youth Development Centers
- Transferred to other jurisdictions
- Children & Youth Services
- Mental Health/Mental Retardation
On average 3,500 youths are admitted to Shuman Center each year. Repeat admissions account for approximately 40% of the total. The average length of stay is about 15 days.
Females make up about 20% of the population. A multi-disciplinary staff delivers a variety of services: direct care, social services, health services, recreation, education and pastoral care. Treatment in detention refers to the therapeutic handling of children within the institution. Each resident in detention has a private room in a unit composed of twelve rooms and a large common space. Youth are assigned to units based on age, charges, physical size and sex. Two youth care workers supervise each unit during waking hours and one supervises during sleeping hours. In addition to insuring a safe and secure environment, they encourage residents to accept responsibility for their actions, develop a positive self image and understand socially acceptable behavior by being positive role models.
Among the functions of social services is to provide direct services to youths. This is accomplished individually and in groups. Social Services are the focal point in the exchange of information about the child between the detention center and the probation department. Academic and volunteer programs are coordinated through social services. A registered nurse is available throughout the day to screen residents upon admission for signs and symptoms of physical distress, contagious disease, chemical ingestion and to obtain a medical history. Since the misuse of drugs and alcohol represent a major health issue for adolescents, new admissions attend an educational program on chemical dependency. Speakers from the community present special programs on other health issues such as sexual responsibility, cancer prevention and smoking cessation.
The recreation program includes vigorous tension releasing activities such as organized sports, as well as activities of a non-competitive nature in which all youths can achieve success. Recreational facilities include a gym, canteen, and playground. The Allegheny Intermediate Unit operates a full-time school program at Shuman Center . The program offers both diagnostic and instructional services Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Attendance is required for all residents of compulsory school age.
Shuman Center makes available religious services for residents who choose to participate. Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim ministers are available to those residents who express their religious preference.