April 13, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 14

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Charles Shireman was leader in juvenile justice field

    Charles Shireman, Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Service Administration and a leading scholar on juvenile delinquency, died Friday, Feb. 24, in his home in Portland, Ore. He was 90.

    “He was a key figure in the juvenile justice field in Cook County, the state and federal scene, with special interest in probation, outreach to delinquent youth and gang work,” said Irving Spergel, the George Herbert Jones Professor Emeritus in SSA.

    “He was responsible for the development of SSA graduate training units in county and federal probation and an outstanding teacher. Many of his Ph.D. students became productive scholars and leaders of criminal justice policy at the state level.”

    Shireman was a former Chairman of the Advisory Board, Juvenile Division, Illinois Department of Corrections; Chairman of the Illinois Delinquency Prevention Commission; and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Probation Services of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Juvenile Court of Cook County.

    He also was director of the Correctional Outcomes Project, which was a joint effort between the School of Social Service Administration and the Illinois Department of Correction. He also co-directed the National Survey of Alternatives to the Use of Secure Detention for Juveniles.

    “Chuck was devoted to the institutions of which he was a part. He was truly an institution builder,” said John Schuerman, Professor Emeritus in SSA. “He held administrative positions at the School of Social Service Administration, but more importantly, he led many committees, initiatives, dean searches and other efforts to further the organization.

    He played an important role in the University’s response to the student unrest in the 1960s. Basically sympathetic to the student beliefs, he was determined that they not threaten the foundations of the institution and found ways to respond that were creative and respectful.”

    Shireman received a B.A. in 1939 from the University of Puget Sound and did graduate-level social work at the University of Washington from 1941 to 1942. He worked for the King County Juvenile Court in Seattle from 1941 to 1948.

    From 1948 to 1952, Shireman served in the U.S. Military Government in Germany, becoming Deputy Chief of the Social Service Advisory staff in what was then West Germany. During his tour of duty, he helped establish the first juvenile probation system in that country.

    Shireman worked for the California Youth Authority in 1953 and received an M.S.W. in 1954 from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Los Angeles.

    He joined the Chicago faculty in 1958, after serving for four years as director of the Hyde Park Youth Project, a demonstration project in treatment and prevention of juvenile delinquency sponsored by the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago. In 1966, he received a Ph.D. from SSA.

    He was the co-author of Rehabilitating Juvenile Justice, published in 1986, and co-editor of Social Work Practice and Social Justice, published in 1973.

    Shireman was a Fulbright scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Criminology at the University of Freiburg in the former West Germany from 1976 to 1977.

    Upon his return to the University, he praised the work of dealing with juvenile offenders, who he said were handled as “child welfare problems. Imaginative service networks have been set up to meet the needs of not only status offenders (such as truants and runaways), but also of all other offenders below the age of 14.”

    He retired in 1985, and moved to Portland, where he was an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University. He continued his involvement in community life in Portland, serving on the Multnomah County Citizen Review Board and working on numerous committees concerned with issues in juvenile corrections.

    In 1942, Shireman married Analie Duncan; she died in 1966. In 1967, he married a colleague at Chicago, Joan Foster, who survives him. Also surviving him are his daughter Patricia Fernbach, his sons William and David, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

    The family suggests that remembrances be sent to the Joan and Charles Shireman Scholarship fund of the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University, Box 751, Portland, Ore., 97207.