ALEXANDRIA, La (KALB) - The Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie has been under fire recently after ten inmates have escaped from the facility within the past two months.
Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie | Credit: KALB
Some people in the community tell us they're worried about their own safety, and the Bunkie Chief of Police says more needs to be done to prevent future inmates from slipping out.
Two inmates remain on the run after seven escaped from the center a little over a week ago.
Youth Center Director James Woods says anytime there's an escape, the sheriff's office and other personnel are notified immediately.
"We start a command center, and we start reaching out,” said Woods.
Chief Scott Ferguson was also notified and responded to the scene immediately.
"I got there within 20 to 30 minutes after they escaped, there was nobody to take charge so I went ahead and took charge of the scene,” said Chief Ferguson.
This isn't the first time inmates have escaped from the youth center. Back in September, three more slipped away.
"We take all the situations like this very seriously. Basically, we are looking at security procedures and making sure something like that doesn't happen again,” said Woods.
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice, there are a total of 35 youths at the facility. The full capacity is 72.
And for every twelve inmates, there are a total of two staff members as well as enhanced security measures throughout the facility.
"We're beefing up on our security, we're making frequent rounds, making sure nothing like this happens again,” said Woods.
The entire facility is gated, under surveillance, and there are areas with raised wire. Woods says there is a concrete plan in place to prevent future escapees but couldn't discuss specifics due to safety concerns.
"Our number one priority is public safety, the safety for the youth and also the safety for the staff,” said Woods.
Although, Chief Ferguson says more needs to be done. He met with youth center officials after the first escape to go over safety protocols and come up with ideas. Since then, he says he hasn't heard back from anyone with the Office of Juvenile Justice.
"We offered when they get a plan together that we'd sit down and look at it and we even offered to have mock chases with them to let the employees know how to handle it and who to contact,” said Chief Ferguson.
Chief Ferguson recently asked them why that is.
"I asked them last week. I mean as a matter of fact I asked them last night how come they haven't met with us,” he said.
The youth center isn't within Bunkie city limits, but as far as safety is concerned, Chief Ferguson says he would do anything to keep his community safe.
"I'm worried about the safety of my community and anybody around here can tell you the outlying people around this city are still friends and family. I still consider it my job to take care of them,” he said.
Chief Ferguson says he would like to meet with youth center officials to make sure other inmates don't escape from the facility.
Last week, the Office of Juvenile Justice Investigative Services Division arrested a Juvenile Justice Specialist after surveillance video recorded inappropriate contact between the employee and the 17-year-old.
Director Woods says the incident is in no way associated with the seven escaped inmates.
If you have any information about two inmates that remain on the loose, you're asked to contact the Bunkie Police Department or the Acadiana Center for Youth.
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