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Shuman center slapped with violations over incident with inmate

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By Bobby Kerlik
Monday, April 8, 2013, 2:03 p.m.
 

The state Department of Public Welfare cited Shuman Juvenile Detention Center for two regulatory violations stemming from an incident between a guard and a 16-year-old inmate, including waiting four days to report an allegation of physical abuse to the state, documents released on Monday show.

Shuman Director William “Jack” Simmons addressed both alleged violations in a report dated Friday, saying supervisors reported the incident as soon as they realized there was potential physical abuse.

“We totally disagree with the citation,” Simmons wrote. “On Jan. 4 all of the reports suggested that the incident was an accident.”

The violations involve an incident between detention Officer Ronald White and inmate Taymar Young. The state's description of the incident is similar to an Allegheny County police affidavit that accused White of hitting the inmate's head with a forearm from behind, into a metal door frame.

Police charged White, 43, of Braddock with simple assault and official oppression. Union officials filed a grievance in an effort to get White his job back.

DPW investigators said county officials did not report the incident until Jan. 8, in violation of state law.

“The report of the offender, the reports of the two witnesses were in sync with the story that it was an accident. Even the resident that was struck corroborated that position. At that time, the supervisor had no reason to suspect that any abuse had occurred,” Simmons wrote.

It wasn't until the security manager pulled surveillance video the next day, saw it did not corroborate with the reports and reported the incident to the state that officials suspected a problem. Simmons wrote that staff will be retrained to correct any problems.

Simmons and Deputy Director Lynette Drawn-Williamson each received five-day, unpaid suspensions amid the state investigation.

The Controller's Office confirmed that Simmons served a two-day suspension last month and then three more days this month. Drawn-Williamson served the five days last month, according to Brad Korinski, chief legal counsel for the Controller's Office.

Simmons declined to comment and Drawn-Williamson did not return a call for comment.

The suspensions were ordered after a March 8 report by County Manager William McKain found apparent payroll discrepancies, allegations of favoritism on the job and problems with internal security at Shuman. McKain asked the Controller's Office to audit Shuman's payroll system and the Shuman Center Resident Fund, which solicits cash and donations for inmates from detention center employees and the community.

The Rev. Floyd Palmer, 71, of Penn Hills, who works as a barber and occasionally cuts hair at Shuman, said he has acted as treasurer for the fund since 2008.

Palmer said he met with representatives from the Controller's Office two weeks ago and provided them with receipts and bank statements for the fund, which has about $1,000 in it. A second account has about $300 in it, he said.

“Most of the money is donated from churches around the holidays to support the residents,” Palmer said.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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