How did 32 teens escape from detention center?

Thirty-two teenagers made a break from a Nashville youth detention center Monday night. Half have been recaptured overnight, but another 17 are still on the run.

Thirty-two teens escaped from a Nashville youth detention center by crawling through a weak spot in a fence late Monday, and more than half of them were still on the run Tuesday, a spokesman said.

The teens — ages 14 to 19 — went out into a yard at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center all at once, shortly after a shift change, Tennessee Department of Children's Services spokesman Rob Johnson said. They escaped through the fence surrounding the yard about 11 p.m., Johnson said, but it wasn't clear whether that was spontaneous or a planned move.

Two teens were captured immediately and 13 others were found overnight, Johnson said. Local police and the Tennessee Highway Patrol were searching for the 17 others.

The state-owned center in northwest Nashville held 78 teens at the time of the escape, and each had committed at least three felonies, Johnson said. The center has a school, offers vocational training and career counseling, and works to move teens to less restrictive settings, according to a state website.

The detention center was calm and back under control Tuesday morning, Johnson said. Police cars were on the scene, but there was little activity at the center or its neighbors — a women's prison, several offices for trucking companies and other businesses.

This wasn't the first breakout from this youth facility.

The Tennessean reports that six or seven teens at Woodland Hills broke out of their rooms and into the courtyard in May. In that case, staffers and caseworkers convinced the teens to return inside.

Several security changes were made after the May incident, reports WMSV-TV Channel 4 in Nashville:

"I do know after the last one, they split some of the kids up. They sent some of them to different (youth development centers), and they looked at different staffing patterns," Johnson said.

Last year, the Channel 4 I-Team obtained photographs and video of guards at the facility sleeping at work instead of watching the dangerous juveniles they were paid to supervise. The guards were in a section of the facility called "the booth," where they monitor on televisions teenage juveniles in their dormitories.

In 2013, nine teenage girls escaped from the G4S Academy for Young Women in Donelson.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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