In a shocking turn of events, nine juveniles escaped from the Abraxas Academy in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, causing a state-wide manhunt. This incident has raised serious questions about the security measures in place at juvenile detention centers and the effectiveness of the current system.
The escape occurred on Sunday evening when the juveniles overwhelmed guards and stole keys. The escapees may have been wearing gray pants or shorts and a gray shirt. The authorities were alerted and multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the search for the escaped offenders.
Following the escape, a perimeter was established around Abraxas Academy. Four of the nine juveniles were taken into custody on Oak Grove Road in Morgantown, around 50 miles west of Philadelphia. As of now, all nine juveniles who escaped from the detention center have been caught.
Abraxas Academy is a “secure residential treatment program” that provides “specialized care for delinquent male youth between the ages of 14 to 18 in 9th grade or above,” according to the facility’s website. The treatment at the Academy is for youth who demonstrate a consistent display of delinquent patterns through multiple placements, serious charges, and problematic behaviors.
This incident has sparked a conversation about the state of juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania and across the country. Questions are being raised about whether these facilities are equipped to handle and rehabilitate troubled youth. Moreover, it has highlighted the need for better security measures to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
The Abraxas Academy escape is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by juvenile detention centers. While it’s crucial to hold individuals accountable for their actions, it’s equally important to ensure that these facilities are safe and secure. As investigations continue, one can only hope that this incident will lead to necessary reforms in the juvenile justice system.
Juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Human Services’ Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services (BJJS) is responsible for the administration, management, and oversight of the state’s public facilities for adjudicated delinquent youth. These facilities are designed to provide state-of-the-art treatment, care, and custody services to Pennsylvania’s most at-risk youth.
The BJJS ensures that every resident receives individualized treatment services based on their strengths and needs. The treatment services value strong child, family, and community partnerships, promote competency development and victim awareness, while advocating for the continued improvement and integration of all child-serving systems.
The four juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania are:
- Loysville Youth Development Center
- Youth Forestry Camp #3
- North Central Secure Treatment Unit
- Youth Forestry Camp #2
These centers provide a highly structured, small classroom environment designed to provide individual attention. Educational programs are designed to meet the needs of each resident. The residents are supported and encouraged to obtain either their high school diploma or GED.
The BJJS is committed to supporting the building of strong communities and serving as a model for juvenile justice services, while fostering hope and the opportunity for success.
How can we improve the juvenile justice system?
Improvements in the juvenile justice system can be made in several ways:
- Reducing the use of detention and secure confinement: This involves prioritizing the use of detention and out-of-home placement for youth who present the greatest public safety risk.
- Improving conditions of confinement: This includes ensuring that the facilities are safe, secure, and provide a conducive environment for rehabilitation.
- Closing large institutions and reinvesting in community-based programs: This involves shifting resources towards programs that can provide care and support in a community setting.
- Providing high-quality, evidence-based services: These services should be tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual in the juvenile justice system.
- Reducing racial/ethnic disparities: Efforts should be made to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, have equal access to justice.
- Retaining most offending juveniles in the juvenile justice system rather than transferring them to the criminal justice system: This ensures that juveniles are treated appropriately for their age and development.
- Improving delivery of defense services: This includes providing adequate legal representation for all juveniles.
- Developing system-wide juvenile justice planning and collaboration: This involves fostering cooperation and coordination among various stakeholders in the juvenile justice system.
- Better education for local communities: Educating communities about the juvenile justice system can help foster understanding and support for reform efforts.
- Undergoing more investigative tasks: More research and investigation can help identify areas of improvement and inform policy decisions.
These improvements can help create a more effective and fair juvenile justice system that is better equipped to serve the needs of youth.