PRICHARD, Ala. (WPMI) A Prichard boot camp for troubled youth is beefing up security after four teens escaped Tuesday night.
"Any time [an escape] happens, we review how that happened and we beef up that security," Restoration Youth Academy director Pastor John Young told Local 15. "We're steadily beefing up security."
Young said the four boys planned the escape by jamming a lock and escaping under the cover of darkness after jumping the camp's razor-wire fence. They were rounded up by Chickasaw Police the next day.
"This is not a prison," Young said. "We're in a building that isn't as secure as we'd like it to be. If it was, we wouldn't have this runaway problem."
Young said every time there has been an escape, it's been by different means.
"Periodically, it's going to happen," Young said. "When kids are used to having their own way, they want to break out. They want to get back to smoking. They want to get back to doing drugs."
Young said teens are usually found in close proximity to the camp, and the longest time a runaway teen has been missing is about three days.
RYA is in Alabama Village, an impoverished high-crime area. Young said sometimes the teens are found holed up in an abandoned house.
Young said the last escape was about four months ago. The highest profile escape was last year in May, when a group of teens stole a camp van and drove all the way to Florida before they were caught.
Young assured the facility is as safe and secure as possible, and all escapees have been returned safely. Young also said the camp has an impressive success rate of rehabilitating trouble teens.
"This is where kids come when their parents are out of options," Young said. "We don't treat kids like prisoners. It's not like that. We don't have a 12 foot fence. We're here to help the kids, not hurt 'em."