It happened again: 13 more teens escape from Tennessee detention center
(CNN) — Thirteen Tennessee juveniles escaped from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center on Friday night, the same juvenile detention center in Nashville where 32 escaped earlier this month.
That’s an average of more than 1½ escapes per day.
By Saturday morning, 12 of the 13 most recent escapees had been recaptured and brought to a juvenile court detention in Nashville to face additional charges, according a Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) statement. A 16-year-old “with a record that includes theft, assault and runaway” remains at large.
Two of the 32 teenagers who escaped back on September 1 are still on the lam.
According to its website, Woodland Hills is for “delinquent male youth” between the ages of 13 and 19 that have committed at least three felonies.
Among those rounded up from the latest jailbreak, “many, if not all, of them have been involved in the previous two incidents,” the TDCS statement said.
Wait: Previous two?
In May, a group of teens broke out through a window and flipped a gate switch in an unsuccessful attempt to free others, according to CNN affiliate WSMV-TV in Nashville.
“Since the last set of escapes, the department has been rapidly upgrading security,” TDCS said. “Aluminum panels that students were able to kick through have been replaced with steel … a project to reinforce the perimeter fence with concrete at the base is nearly complete.”
But TDCS, which operates the Woodland Hills facility, says its guards “have few methods to control the youth … they do not have weapons or pepper spray.” The only thing they do have, according to the TDCS website, is a radio to call for help.
Another problem, it would seem, is that the delinquent felons in lockup are not actually allowed to be locked up.
“Because of a decades old court settlement, the youth are not allowed to be locked inside their rooms,” it said in a Saturday statement.
According to an account of the incident provided by TDCS, Friday’s escape occurred after two inmates — which it refers to as students — overpowered a guard that was making his rounds. “He was assaulted, and the students took his radio and keys. The other youth in the dorm came out of their unlocked rooms.”
The group then made its way to the perimeter gate, where one of them “was able to wriggle through a gap between the fence and the gate” and make it over to the guard house — which he was able to break into by throwing a rock through the window.
Once inside, he flipped the electric switch that opened the gate, liberating his comrades.
Woodland Hills said two of its staff members were injured in the escape, one was treated at the scene, while the other was taken to a Nashville hospital.