Allegheny County has reported to the state government on the reforms it has implemented at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center following a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) investigation into the alleged physical abuse of a child inmate in January.
Now the county must wait at least a few days for the DPW to rule on the status of the Shuman Center's license as a juvenile detention facility.
The license could be downgraded to a provisional status or the inmates could even be transferred, according to DPW spokeswoman Donna Morgan.
"We have compliance; then, we have first provisional and then second provisional," Morgan said. "In some cases, we will actually skip them and do something more dramatic. We could do emergency relocations; we could do an emergency closure, that type of thing."
However, she noted that the state tries to keep facilities running as long as possible.
Morgan said the DPW investigated a January 4 incident involving "two staff persons physically abusing a child in the care of that center."
In a written statement, Allegheny County Manager William McKain said his office investigated the event separately.
“Initial reports and statements indicated that it was a slip and fall, but after further investigation, a Child Line report was made regarding the incident," McKain wrote.
The changes to Shuman Center operations demanded by McKain in a March 8 report included:
- an anonymous employee satisfaction survey
- the use of the county's human resources department to make hires
- County Controller audits of the center's payroll and of an employee donation fund
- County Police purview over security staff at the center
- the development of a "right-sizing" strategy to address population loss
McKain's investigation and report were prompted by a petition from about 70 disgruntled Shuman Center employees and not specifically by the alleged abuse incident in January.
According to published reports, Shuman Center employees allegedly shoved a young inmate into a door frame on January 4, drawing blood.