Two teenagers escaped Monday from Maryland's Cheltenham youth detention center in Prince George's County, a facility with a troubled past that has recently been credited with progress.
The two 15-year-olds apparently fled through two holes cut in the chain-link fence surrounding the institution, according to LaWanda Edwards, spokeswoman for the state Department of Juvenile Services.
The teenagers remained at large last night. They apparently were clad in workout wear when they escaped.
Edwards said that both youths had been held in connection with nonviolent offenses. Neither had been adjudicated, she said. One was from Carroll County, but the home town of the other could not be learned immediately.
The escape was still under investigation last night, but no evidence of outside help had been found, Edwards said. She said authorities did not know how or when the fence was cut. State police are involved in the search for the youths.
In late January, it was reported that at least four youths had escaped from the facility in the seven previous months. But there had been no escapes in some time, Edwards said, calling Monday's incident "a little disappointing."
She said it was detected about 7 p.m., when youths returned to their housing units after playing football. The two lived in separate units, she said.
Federal investigators have criticized the conditions under which youths were held at Cheltenham and another Maryland juvenile facility, the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore. But officials have said that they were acting to eliminate abuse and neglect, and officials said in May that 30 workers at Cheltenham had been disciplined in such cases in the past six months.
In a report issued last month, a monitor reported signs of improvement at Cheltenham, saying that the youth population had been reduced and that programming increased. The facility currently houses about 70 male youths, Edwards said.