Teens escaped youth prison through ceiling

Friday, January 6, 2012 - 7:23pm

Office of Juvenile Justice officials have figured out how three teenagers got out of the Jetson Center for Youth on December 27th. They say it happened because several people were not doing their jobs.

Officials say the teens snuck into their dormitory bathroom and pried a ceiling tile loose. According to the investigation, they crawled through the ceiling to get to another room, and left the building through an unlocked door. Officials say the trio then hopped over the inner 10-foot fence, and cut through the exterior fence. Officials are not sure what kind of tool they used to do that, or where the tool came from.

"Perhaps it was brought in by a maintenance crew from outside," Mary Livers, deputy secretary of the Office of Juvenile Justice, says.

She thinks the teens left the youth prison at around 11:30pm. They weren't discovered missing until about eight hours later.

"I think we need to focus on the integrity of our procedures," Livers says. "We had many breakdowns of that that evening."

She says four people have been found responsible for the escape.

"They weren't doing what they were supposed to do," she says.

Normally, employees are supposed to check the dorms every fifteen minutes. They're then supposed to call those checks in every hour.

"They're supposed to verify there's either movement or flesh to prove that a person is there," Livers says. "Apparently, that was not done."

One of those people has been fired. Three others are on administrative leave for now. The facility is going through changes to fix the problem.

"We've stepped up our training. We're in the process of reviewing our procedures," Livers explains. "Whenever an outside contractor comes to Jetson, we now inventory their tools."

They're doing everything they can to make sure their charges stay on the inside.

"When procedures aren't followed and systems break down, then the public is put in some type of jeopardy and that's a failure of our mission," she says. "We're very committed to addressing these issues."

The three teenagers have been charged with escape. Their sentences have not been decided.

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