But right now, there is no plan to reopen Shuman or establish another juvenile detention center.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — This year has seen a surge in violent juvenile crime. More teenage victims of homicide, more young people arrested with guns.

Twenty-eight teenagers have died from homicide in 2021, and more and more juveniles — some as young as 14 years old — are walking around with guns.

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But police said even those they charge with gun possession and other serious crimes are quickly released — informed by county juvenile probation that there is just no place to put them.

“Other than the fact that they are juveniles, they would be going to the county jail,” Northern Regional Police Chief John Sicilia said. “it is frustrating.”

The Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association said the problem stems from the closure of the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center last summer.

Since then, the county courts said there are only 16 detention beds available to detain juveniles — all of them outside the county and requiring more than an hour’s drive to centers in Westmoreland and Cambria counties and Jefferson County, Ohio.

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Without that availability, most of the juveniles are given home detention to await their court dates, police say, putting the public at risk. Sicilia, who heads the chiefs association, said the county needs a detention center of its own.

“It’s hard to believe that we don’t have a faculty within Allegheny County to lodge juvenile offenders,” Sicilia said.

The county elected to close Shuman rather than fight a state order revoking the center’s license for various violations. On Monday, the county issued KDKA a statement, saying the lack of detention beds is a problem statewide.

“We will continue to work to support the Courts with their needs on this matter. We understand that this challenge is not unique to the county as more and more juvenile facilities throughout the Commonwealth are closing.”

Sicilia said the current remedy is not sufficient.

“I would hope that this is just a temporary fix and a long-term solution is in the plan,” Sicilia said. “I’m not aware of what that is right now, but I’m optimistic that Allegheny County, a county of our size, would have a facility where we could lodge juveniles.

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But right now, there is no plan to reopen Shuman or establish another juvenile detention center.