Tennessee Breakout: Teenage Masterminds, or Bad Building Design?


How can more than a dozen inmates break out of a high security detention center? Even better, how can teenagers break out of a detention center? These are questions that Tennessee law enforcement are asking themselves just days after 13 convicts escaped a youth detention center by overpowering a security guard.

One of the most shocking factors is not that only one of the thirteen were recaptured, or that the facility has recently been remodeled to accommodate new security measures, but that less than one month ago (Sept. 1st) 32 other inmates also escaped. While most of the convicts were recaptured after the first breach there are still 14 total escapees at large. Although they are only adolescents they are all being held in the detention center on multiple felonies.

Officials working on the case are trying to find a resolution to the violent background of facility that ultimately lead to the breakout. Some are considering arming the guards with weapons. However, that brings around the intersection of gun control and human rights. If the guard was presented with a situation that called for forceful action, how would they isolate the problem so they will not injure others?  Guards even in adult prisons do not generally bring guns into the general population areas, as they are often outnumbered and the weapon would be more dangerous if taken from them by a mob of prisoners.

As of now, the remaining 52 prisoners are being still housed at Woodland Hills.  A spokesman for the Tennessee governor’s office has said that the facility is being reviewed by a national expert in prisoner security.