Company that runs Metro’s Juvenile Justice Center faces scrutiny

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Four teens escaped Nashville’s Juvenile Just Center last November, and on Thursday, the company that runs the center had to answer for the incident.

Thursday’s special meeting was called by members of Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee. Committee members asked the company that runs the Center, Youth Opportunity Investments (YOI), how and why the incident was able to occur.

The president of YOI, Jim Hill, said, “The odds of this happening and the way it happening are uncalled for.”

Members also questioned Juvenile Court administration members about whether or not Metro could take over the Center.

“Currently we do not have a plan on how to transition if we take it over ourselves,” said Juvenile Court judge, Sheila Calloway.

Youth Opportunity Investments said they terminated four employees after the incident. Metro police have arrested and charged three of those employees with recklessness that allowed the teens to escape. Metro police said the third arrest happened on Wednesday when 28-year-old Tierra Fox surrendered on an arrest warrant.

At the meeting, Sergeant Gene Donegan with Metro Police’s Major Cask Task Force, said their investigation revealed the teens were out on cleaning duty when they should’ve been in their rooms and that an employee failed to secure an elevator that the teens used to escape.

“There’s no question in my mind, they were reckless,” said Sgt. Donegan.

He added the three of the escapees hadn’t acquired enough behavioral points to even be tasked with cleaning duty. YOI has said they use a points system to reward good behavior.

Committee members also shared that the YOI’s employees had failed to follow the terms of Metro’s contract, and instead followed company policy by calling others before 911.

In a 911 call released to News 2, a YOI employee could be heard saying, “Do I contact 911 or do I contact the other number … ’cause I called the other number and they had me on hold.”

Metro Police have said 911 wasn’t called until 45 minutes later.

Juvenile Court Administrator Kathy Sinback said, “The contract always trumps even if the policy contains some additional provisions.”

Metro’s contract with YOI expires in June. It has not been decided if Metro will renew a contract with the company.

In regards to whether or not Metro could run the Juvenile Justice Center, Judge Sheila Calloway said, “We do not have a plan if we decide to take over the contract.”

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