‘Out of control’ teens run amok at juvenile detention center

There were three employees in total on Saturday watching over the 23 juveniles.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 7:06 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Teens ran amok at the Jefferson Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Saturday afternoon.

“At this time, we do have them out of control, trying to get out of the facility,” one dispatcher was heard over a radio transmission.

The dispatcher was talking about 23 juveniles that were in the facility at the time who had broken through their doors.

One of the teens, who was there for felony arson, started setting small fires. According to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, the 17-year-old had smuggled contraband into the facility which she used to light the fires.

The fires were only part of the problem.

“They now have a lot of juveniles attempting to break out windows to get out of the facility,” a dispatcher continued.

One of the teens jumped over the fence and made a run for it, crossing the nearby railroad tracks. He was later caught by police.

“We got the one already that got out, nobody’s outstanding,” one officer is heard on the radio. “But just keep everybody coming for now.”

The ordeal prompted an immediate response from St. Matthews Fire, Lyndon Police and Louisville Metro Police.

“Somebody is probably going to get hurt eventually,” Lyndon Police Chief Grady Throneberry told WAVE News. “It put innocent folks in jeopardy.”

There were three employees in total on Saturday watching over the 23 juveniles.

WAVE Troubleshooters learned this wasn’t the first time there’s been problems at the facility which houses felony youth offenders. Less than four weeks ago, the teens had broken out of their rooms.

The state denied it was a riot.

“There was a problem with the locks at the facility, which caused a situation with youth refusing to return to their rooms, and as a precautionary measure, law enforcement was contacted,” Morgan Hall, the public safety cabinet’s spokesperson said.

LMPD confirmed they had to help out. They both confirmed the situation was later controlled without injuries.

Throneberry points to a couple of problems, like the facility itself.

“They have done some minor upgrades to that; new locks, reinforcing doors, that sort of thing,” Throneberry said. “But still, the facility is inadequate for what it’s being used for.”

However, without funding, no one appears to want to work there. At a recent hiring push, the facility did not receive a single applicant after talking with the center’s director.

“They need more staff, they need more security and these teens deserve better,” Throneberry said.

He added that if people are concerned, they should do something about it and call their legislators so that the facility is properly staffed, upgraded and managed.

Hall provided the following statement about Saturday’s incident.

“A 17-year-old female smuggled in contraband which she then used to set fire on Saturday to paper and other items in a garbage drum at Jefferson Co. Juvenile Detention Center. The fire department was able to extinguish the fire and no youth or staff sustained any injuries. The facility suffered smoke damage but was cleared to continue operations.

During the evacuation one youth escaped but was shortly located by LMPD and transferred back to the detention center.

The internal investigations branch of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is opening an investigation and any needed corrective action or revised security features will be implemented.”