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Durham Juvenile Escapees May Prompt Change In Youth Home Procedures

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DURHAM, N.C. — County officials admit policies were violated, which led to the escape of three juveniles from a Durham youth home last week. Officials claim changes are long overdue.

Last Monday, three juveniles overpowered a detention councilor at the youth home on Broad Street. Officials said one of the juveniles used a makeshift knife to obtain keys to help two others escape. The three juveniles were recaptured almost 36 hours after their escape when a judge ordered their pictures and identities be released to the public.

County officials claim the youth home is outdated and does not meet the current state codes for juvenile facilities. Officials say there have been three escapes in the last eight years.

In a report issued Friday, Deputy County Manager Carolyn Titus admitted four policies had been violated at the youth home.

  • The morning bathroom routine was started before 6:15 a.m.
  • More than one resident was led out of their room at a time for the morning routine.
  • The shower facility was not locked while it was occupied by the residents.
  • A telephone call was not made to 911 to follow up on the alarm.
  • County officials said they will request additional staffing, training and the purchase of voice-activated radios.

    "The Durham Sheriff's Office has also been asked to assist in conducting semi-annual inspections, including furniture and equipment for security purposes," Titus said.

    The councilor that was overpowered during the break-in resigned after the incident.

    On Monday, County Manager Mike Ruffin is expected to recommend to county commissioners that they fast-track a new facility that is already planned to be built. If approved, construction on that facility could begin next summer.

    Officials are looking at changing the policy about who would be held at youth homes. One of the escapees was being held on $1 million bond and was to be tried as an adult.

    Officials are also seeking legislation from the General Assembly to allow them to release the pictures and identities of juvenile escapees. Under the current state law, the identities of juveniles cannot be released.


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