Detention staff blames building's age for escape

Posted at 6:54 PM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-26 19:54:37-04

TULSA- Alondo Edwards is the superintendent of Tulsa County Juvenile Detention. The county's juvenile detention center was built in the 1960's.

After a 17-year-old escaped Wednesday night, Edwards said the center is too small and old for the county's needs.

"Originally when the juvenile detention center was built it was about 19 beds," Edwards. 

The center now holds 55 beds. On Wednesday around 9:45 p.m., the teenager pushed out a rusty window, then jumped out and headed northwest toward Cleveland. 

Tulsa County sheriff's deputies took the boy back into custody more than 30 miles away from the center at a relative's home. 

"I mean if you look at it," Edwards said while pointing to the windows, "it is obviously the age of the building. Again we do the best that we can to maintain it, but there is just a limit to what you can do."

In 2014, Tulsa County voters approved a new juvenile center. The new center will hold juvenile detention, juvenile court, family adoption and several other services.

Possible locations have included a piece of property for sale near 36th Street North and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the former Laura Dester Shelter site. After considering both of those locations, county leaders decided against both options.

On Wednesday County Commissioner Karen Keith told 2 Works For You the county is still searching for a location to build the center. Keith said they currently have a short list of possible locations and plan to make a public announcement soon. 

Justin Jones is the director of the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau. He said escapes are rare at the detention center. 

"This would probably be two since the 1960's when the facility was built," Jones said. 

A new center would still include windows near the juvenile's beds, as is required by law, but they would be placed possible 10 to 15 feet up, according to Edwards. 

"New infrastructure that would have made this type of event unavailable to a young man like that," Jones said.

In the meantime, detention center staff said they will be installing metal bars on each of the windows to make sure another escape isn't possible.

"Even if you push that out, once we put the bar across, you won't be able to exit the room" Edwards said.  

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.

Download our free app for Apple and Android and Kindle devices.

Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook