Chaos erupts at Nashville youth detention center as 24 more teens try to escape

September 4, 2014

For the second time this week, teens held at a Nashville youth detention center escaped their dorms, leaving guards scrambling to detain them.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, 24 teens were on the loose in the compound of the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center after breaking out of their dorms and overwhelming the guards inside.

Some roamed through the compound chasing and assaulting guards and carrying sticks, pipes and fire extinguishers, according to footage from the WTVF station. Helicopters buzzed overhead, and eventually specially trained teams from the Tennessee Department of Correction arrived to quell the uprising, according to the Associated Press.


A crew checks for weak spots in the fence surrounding the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

None successfully escaped the perimeter fence. Ten teens who were identified as the “ringleaders” were taken to a different youth facility, and the remainder were returned to their dorms.

The breakout occurred at Woodland Hills just days after 32 detainees escaped the same facility by breaking through a panel underneath a window and fleeing through a weak spot in the perimeter fence on Monday night.

Six of those teens are still at large, though most were detained within 24 hours of the escape.

In both incidents, the teens apparently took advantage of a moment when guards were changing shifts to attempt their escape. According to News Channel 5, guards are not permitted to use weapons, sticks, Tasers or other means of subduing the inmates, which made both situations difficult to contain.

Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry said authorities would reinforce the aluminum panels underneath the windows that were used in both escape attempts and would consider renegotiating policies that prevent the facility from locking doors to common areas.

According to WBIR, half a dozen teens briefly escaped the Woodland facility in May but were caught before they could leave the property.

And in 2013, guards at the facility were caught sleeping on the job during an overnight shift, according to a WSMV investigation.

 

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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