ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Allegheny County Council is pushing back on plans to reopen the old Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.
Tuesday night, the council voted to file a lawsuit against Rich Fitzgerald and county courts over the plans.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced a plan this month for a contract with Adelphoi to reopen the center in January for $73 million.
Councilman Sam DeMarco is against the lawsuit and for re-opening Shuman. He referenced the rise in violent crimes and juveniles being held at the Allegheny County Jail.
“Let me tell you it’s desperately needed. Right now in the Allegheny County Jail, we have 22 juveniles. Eight are in there for criminal homicide,” DeMarco said. “One’s in there for attempted criminal homicide, one for rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, the rest for aggravated assault with a firearm.”
Councilwoman Bethany Hallam says the decision to sue isn’t about the center itself, but that council was excluded from the process, which she says violates the county charter.
“It is very clear explicit and unambiguous about council’s authority to approve any use of county property,” Hallam said.
Lawsuit aside, Shuman is on track to open with 12 beds for juvenile offenders next year and there are strong opinions for and against it.
“A CYS worker this morning told me some of these juveniles will say to the judge, ‘That’s ok! I’m going to be out in a couple hours anyway!’” DeMarco said. “And county council deciding to step in and stop this, they are hurting public safety.”
“If we have $73 million in the bank to offer to a private juvenile detention facility, what better could we do with that money to support children in our county to make sure they don’t end up in a juvenile facility in the first place?” said Hallam.
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