Concerns raised after inmate escapes at youth correctional facility
FAYETTE COUNTY, Tenn. — There are concerns after a series of inmate escapes at a local youth correctional facility.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is continuously working to find a teenage boy who escaped the John S. Wilder Youth Development Center last week, and says they were able to stop several more juveniles on Monday night as they attempted to escape the facility.
“This year we had the incident that happened the night before last, and then one week prior, we had the three that successfully escaped the facility. I know there were more incidents last year,” said Chief Deputy Ray Garcia, with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
Garcia says the facility is not a county-run facility, but is operated under the Department of Children’s Services. It’s unclear why these inmates are able to escape the facility.
“I’m not sure if it’s a manpower issue. I’m sure if there is something to be said for the physical facility there because that’s an older facility,” Garcia said. “I’m going to venture to say that when it was originally built, it didn’t intend to house the level of criminal offenses that are being housed there now.”
He says the way each inmate was reported to have escaped has varied.
“We’ve also seen where the fence has been cut before, and individuals were able to get through that hole in the fence,” Garcia said.
“The escape attempt Monday night, they actually were able to gain access to a set of keys that one of the guards had, and they used that to get out of their dorm area and then they had the sheets thrown over the exterior fence trying to use that to get over the fence to get out,” Garcia said.
Garcia says the biggest concern is what would happen if one of these escaped inmates gets near students from schools nearby or anyone in the public, as this facility houses some of the more violent offenders from across the state.
“There are individuals in there that have been charged with homicide, carjacking, armed robbery, there’s a sex offender unit there. So they do house the worst of the worst,” Garcia said.
The problem deputies face when trying to locate an inmate that has escaped is they cannot seek the assistance of the public due to the fact that the inmate is a juvenile.
This means they cannot disclose a picture or a name.
“We know that the public is a great help to us in solving crimes when we can provide information to them, and the fact that we can’t put that information out there to use the public’s assistance is frustrating for us,” Garcia said.
Currently one inmate is still on the loose after escaping one week ago.