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UPDATED: Three juveniles escape Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center

 Posted: 9:10 AM October 03, 2012

Updated: 11:02 a.m.

The three teenagers who escaped from the second floor residential program of the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center early this morning barricaded themselves in their room by tying a restraint to the door handle, as the doors open out into the hallway.

"(They) decided they didn't want to be there anymore," said Joe Ferguson, deputy director for the Juvenile Department.

The three boys, 14, 15 and 17 are of Ashland, Medford and White City respectively. The 17-year-old has since been apprehended by police on the Bear Creek Greenway near the Barnett Road intersection. He is back in the detention side of the facility on felony charges of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. The 14-year-old and 15-year-old are still missing.

The residential program facility is a voluntary program for youth struggling on probation. It is in the second floor of the center, where two detention units are also housed, but is not part of the detention program.

Residents of the 15-bed facility live there, attend class, are involved in community activities and go on home visits, Ferguson said. Prior to the program's inception a little over a year ago - it replaced the traditional shelter program - similarly troubled youth were committed to the Oregon Youth Authority.

"The idea is to keep kids locally," Ferguson said. "It's kind of like a transition center."

The rooms are also less secure. There are no bars on the windows and residents can move around the room freely.

The broken window will cost more than $1,000 to fix, officials said. However, they are still unsure if incident will mean tightened security at the program.

"We deal with a tough clientele," Ferguson said. "We'll review everything that happened and make some decisions. We will more than likely not make it into detention."

He added hiring additional program staff is unlikely, as it would be graveyard work when most of the residents are asleep.

"Kids have to take some sort of ownership," Ferguson said of the program. "If they don't, there are some natural consequences."

- Ryan Pfeil

7:01 a.m.

Three juveniles escaped the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center just after midnight today, possibly by smashing out a second-story window and tying sheets together to climb down.

Sgt. Brent Mak of Medford police said the incident occurred on the rehabilitation side of the JDH complex where security is not as tight.

"This was not a full-blown escape from jail," Mak said.

The names and ages of the juveniles are not yet known. One was captured later along the Bear Creek Greenway.

Check back later for more updates.

— Ryan Pfeil


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