Police are still searching for juvenile offenders after 32 teens escape a Tennessee detention center

September 2, 2014

Police work in front of the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Dozens of teens broke out of a Tennessee youth detention facility late Monday. And after an overnight search, police are still hunting for several of the escapees who remain at large.

The security breach happened at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville around 11 p.m on Monday, around the same time that guards at the jail were changing shifts. Police believe that a total of 32 teens, all between ages 14 and 17, escaped their rooms and kicked down a panel underneath a window to escape the building. They then slipped under a weak spot in the chain link perimeter fence and fled.

“Staffing is lighter during the overnight hours, and so, presumably, they planned for that, but we don’t know quite yet,” said Rob Johnson, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, according to WSMV. “The facility, as I understand, is under control. They’ve brought in extra staff.”

Most of the teens who escaped have at least three felonies on their records, Johnson said according to WSMV. Two escapees were found almost immediately, and several others were found by 4:00 a.m. as authorities searched on foot, with police dogs and by helicopter.

Ten of the teens were still missing on Tuesday morning, according to the Associate Press. Some had been caught, others turned themselves in, and some were turned in by their parents.

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.

[This post has been updated.]

Police in Nashville are searching for at least a dozen teenagers who escaped from a juvenile detention center Monday night. (Reuters)
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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