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JYC escapee arrested, returned to custody

Posted: October 7, 2011 - 12:03am

Police picked up a 17-year-old boy Wednesday who escaped from the secure Johnson Youth Center facility over the weekend.

He was found by Juneau Police Department officers on Cedar Drive around 9 a.m. and arrested on an outstanding detention order.

The minor was walking outside on a walkway from one building to another on the JYC campus off Hospital Drive with several other kids and an adult supervisor when he bolted from the group and ran off the campus. The security fence that usually deters escapees is currently in the process of being demolished for a construction project, which lead to the security lapse, JYC Superintendent Dennis Weston said Thursday in an interview.

Rather than chasing after the boy, the supervisor made sure none of the other kids in the group left with the runaway, which is the proper procedure, Weston stated.

“We’re not police officers, so we’re not going on high-speed chases through town,” Weston said, noting the center immediately notified the police and Alaska State Troopers and provided them a picture of the boy.

A medical facility evaluated the teen and found him to be unharmed. But Weston says he is still investigating why the boy left.

“I always ask myself when someone leaves, are they going to something, or are they going away from us?” he said. “That’s what we’ll be looking into with him.”

The last time a juvenile escaped the facility was about a year or two ago, Weston added.

Records show the boy was ordered by the Juneau Superior Court on Feb. 2 of this year to be placed on a home placement order following charges for vehicle theft and criminal mischief. He is currently enrolled in JYC’s treatment unit for violating the conditions of his probation imposed by the court during a disposition hearing.

“I have a concern that when kids are running around out in the community, their safety’s really compromised and they’re not making good decisions,” Weston said. “I’m very glad that he’s back.”

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com

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