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Staffing Problems Claimed at Nashville Jail Where Teens Escaped

An attorney representing one of the youths that allegedly overran a section of a Nashville, Tennessee, juvenile detention facility and escaped Monday said the center has “a history of problems” with staffing, and that contributed to the breakout. Lawyer Thomas Miller, who represents a 17-year-old who was one of more than 30 who escaped Monday, told NBC News said “a group of young men, being confined, who were minimally supervised, found an opportunity.”

The 17-year-old, who was placed in the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center just months ago, was arrested Wednesday after being caught driving a stolen car. Six teens were still on the loose Thursday evening, officials said. Late Wednesday, another group escaped into a yard and attacked guards with rocks and sticks, NBC News affiliate WSMV reported.

To ensure the safety of Woodland Hills, which is more like a school than a prison, a corrections “strike force” will be on hand at the state-operated facility Thursday night and officials are currently reviewing policies that could involve locking room doors. The 10 youths involved in Wednesday’s incident were transferred to another facility.

“This week what has occurred is that more than one individual got an idea to become a group. They had a plan and the plan succeeded,” said another attorney, Everette Parrish, who is appointed by the state to represent youths in detention facilities. “They found a weakness in the hardware and they found a weakness in the procedures and policies of the guards … I want my clients to get out, but I want them to get out the right way.” A judge told NBC News that the center is facing a “crisis” and must address issues there.

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— Debra Preitkis-Jones and Phil Helsel