NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Thirteen teenagers broke out of a Nashville youth detention center and all but one were recaptured within hours, authorities said Saturday, marking the latest of a rash of security breaches at the complex.
The 13 teens overpowered a guard at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center late Friday, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services said in a statement. It said they took the guard’s radio and keys and let themselves out of a dormitory and ran to an exterior gate. It is not yet known how they got outside the fence.
The statement says Nashville’s Metro police and Tennessee Highway Patrol officers regained custody of all but one youth within hours. The report said the dozen recaptured teens were taken to a juvenile court detention center after what was the third major disturbance in weeks at the center.
The department says 52 other teens being held at the Woodland Hills complex remained inside.
Department officials and police didn’t immediately answer Associated Press calls for further details Saturday.
One staffer was injured in the Friday night breakout, according to the statement, which did not elaborate on the worker’s condition.
Thirty-two teenagers escaped from the same center on the night of Sept. 1, alarming state officials who have since begun conducting a review of youth detention security in the state. Two of those teens who escaped still remain at large.
The Woodland Hills center has a history of violent clashes, breakout attempts and attacks on guards. Since the Sept. 1 escape, officials at the center have said they have adopted extra security measures.
The problems have shed light on the difficulty of maintaining order at a center where most of the 14- to 19-year-olds have committed at least three felonies and the challenges faced by Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services in trying to fix the issues.
In an interview earlier this month, DCS Commissioner Jim Henry said policies were being reviewed to see if guards could be given weapons such as stun guns to help control unruly detainees. Currently, he had said, guards do not carry weapons and must rely on talking with the inmates to quell disturbances.
However, some lawmakers in Tennessee have said that’s not enough. They want the state to reopen a facility closed in 2012, Taft Youth Development Center, which primarily housed older, more violent offenders. They say the inmates at Taft were transferred to Woodland Hills, which then saw a spike in assaults.
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