April 4, 2006

Charles Shireman, pioneer of juvenile justice, dies at 90

Charles Shireman, a professor emeritus in the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) who devoted his life to studying and improving the juvenile justice system on the local, state, and federal levels, died on February 24.

“He initiated training programs at SSA preparing social workers for county and federal probation systems,” said Irving Spergel, the George Herbert Jones professor emeritus in the SSA. “He was a leader of cross-method curriculum development at SSA. He was a first-rate teacher. His students took prominent roles in the development of criminal justice programs in schools of social work and state corrections departments across the country.”

Over the course of his career, Shireman served as chairman of the Juvenile Division of the Advisory Board for the Illinois Department of Corrections, chairman of the Illinois Delinquency Prevention Commission, chairman of the Subcommittee to the Juvenile Court of Cook County, co-director of the National Survey of Alternatives to the Use of Secure Detention for Juveniles, president of the Illinois Academy of Criminology, and director of the Correctional Outcomes Project. He also held administrative positions in the SSA and developed graduate training units.

The National Association of Social Workers recognized Shireman as a pioneer in his field. According to the Chicago Tribune, his efforts kept many Chicago youths away from gang life. Combining criminology and criminal justice, he published many works on juvenile corrections, such as Rehabilitating Juvenile Justice.

He also helped establish the first juvenile probation system in Germany while serving with the U.S. Military Government from 1948 to 1952.

“Charles Shireman influenced the development of a balanced rehabilitative approach to delinquent youth in the juvenile justice system,” Spergel said.

Shireman received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound in 1939 and his master’s degree from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1954. After serving for four years as director of the Hyde Park Youth Project, which sought to treat and prevent juvenile delinquency, Shireman joined the University faculty in 1958. He earned his doctorate from the SSA at the University of Chicago in 1966.

Shireman retired after 27 years of service at the University and moved to Portland, Oregon. He then became an adjunct professor for the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University.

Shireman died of pneumonia in his Portland home. He is survived by his wife, Joan Foster Shireman, his sons, William and David, his daughter, Patricia Fernbach, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.