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How The Shuman Juvenile Detention Center's Closure Could Impact The Young People Housed There

Allegheny County Courthouse inside interior justice system criminal
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s program: Kathi Elliott from Gwen’s Girls explains how the closing of the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center will impact the approximately 20 young people housed at the center, and their families; a look at the track record of Kevin Sousa, a local chef who has opened four restaurants in the last decade, but left them for new ventures; and a conversation with author Damian Dressick about his latest collection of “flash” fiction.

Youths detained at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center will soon be moved to other facilities
(0:00 - 9:20)

Citing ongoing violations, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked the license of the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center. It will close on September 18.

“When I heard the news, I just was shocked, and the first thing that came across my mind was, ‘Now what happens to the youth that are there?’” says Kathi Elliott, CEO of Gwen’s Girls, which empowers girls and young women and works to keep them out of the justice system.

There are 20 young people currently housed at the center. They will be transferred to other state-operated facilities, including some centers in other counties.

County Manager William McKain issued a statement this week saying the county put additional resources into the facility but has still experienced violations, and the pandemic has exacerbated staffing challenges.

The Tribune-Review reported one such violation resulted in a heroin overdose by one of the residents.

“I have been working closely with juvenile probation and the court system to minimize the number of youth housed and sent to Shuman center,” says Elliott.

Elliott says better training and screening would be welcome, but the administration should also engage in other training to better address the needs of young people.

“It’s an opportunity for us to critically think about what is happening in our community and empower our community and families to support our young people who are coming in contact with the police and criminal justice system,” says Elliott.

Kevin Sousa’s Restaurant History, Business Dealings In Pittsburgh
(9:22 - 17:15) 

Chef and restaurateur Kevin Sousa announced in July via Instagram that he was no longer involved in the highly acclaimed Superior Motors Restaurant in Braddock. He’s planning 2 new restaurants, one in Mt. Oliver and Arlington.

“People open a lot of restaurants, especially if they are ambitious and creative, but I think the difference here is every time a couple open some other ones close.” says Hal B. Klein the associate editor and food critic for Pittsburgh Magazine. He wrote an in-depth piece about Kevin Sousa’s restaurant ventures. “The difficulty is that there are often big promises attached to those restaurants and then they’re sort of abandoned.”

Sousa's first restaurant was Salt of the Earth, which closed in 2015, and he’s moved onto different types of restaurants, such as Union Pig and Chicken and Station Street Hot Dogs, all of which subsequently closed.

Klein found in his reporting that there’s a predictable path in Sousa’s business dealings thus far.

“You see a pattern of initial excitement, initially like real deep engagement and creativity,” he says. “When the new project moves on, it seems like he is just disengaged from whatever else has happened. When those restaurants close it leaves a wake behind, sometimes of debt.”

Superior Motors, located in Braddock, was seen as a significant investment in the community.

“Superior Motors, because it came with so many promises to the community as well and this Kickstarter campaign that at the time was a record-setting campaign for a restaurant, it brings a lot of buzz that way,” Klein says

Although Sousa’s departure from Superior Motors leaves the fate of the business up in the air, there is still room for another entity to take over.

Pittsburgh Author Looks To ‘Cut Through The Clutter’ With Experimental (And Very Short) Stories

“Fables of Deconstruction” is the debut short-story collection by local author Damian Dressick. 90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll recently sat down with him for an outdoor conversation.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
Rebecca Reese is a production assistant for The Confluence.
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