CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Nearly one week after an attempted breakout at the Gene Spadaro Juvenile Detention Center in Mt. Hope, Stephanie Bond, acting director of the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services spoke to state legislators about the incident on Monday.
Bond told the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority five juveniles attempted to breakout after assaulting staff members working the midnight shift May 14. Two were using spray bottles as weapons while others had put water bottles into laundry bags.
However, other staff members responded quickly to thwart the attempt.
“They subdued residents one at a time, took them to their holding cells, which are secure and came up and would get the next one,” Bond said. “They just did a remarkable job and they didn’t even get close to an escape.”
According to Bond, the attempt was timed out to coincide with the midnight shift, which is known to have fewer staff members working the 23-bed facility. At the time, there were 24 residents in holding.
While this escape was easily resolved, it did point out security flaws due to the facility’s design.
When asked by Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, if better locks would have prevented the incident, Bond responded locks, by themselves, would not factor in under current procedure.
“Without having a toilet in those rooms, you can’t have them locked anyways,” she said. “Unless those kids would have been a security risk prior to that.”
There are future plans to upgrade the facility’s security to match other state facilities in case of future incidents where detaining residents quickly is necessary.
“We’re going to make it so they’re able to that with a key like they are at Vickie Douglas (Juvenile Facility),” Bond said. “For those extreme situations where they have to lock somebody quickly in a room, that they’ll have the ability to do so.”
Lawmakers expressed frustration upgrades such as these were estimated to be completed by January when proposed back in December, wondering if the organization overestimated its budget.
Bond said finances were not the issue.
“I believe we have enough funds right now to do the upgrades needed at Gene Spadaro. We had a long purchasing process with the architects which took more time than we were anticipating. So, that put a delay on moving forward.”
Bond assured the legislators the architects have begun to visit the site to begin the process of renovation.
The incident is the second in a juvenile facility this year. Back in February, several juveniles did significant damage at the juvenile facility in Parkersburg. Bond told lawmakers Monday the repair bill will land somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000.