Inmates recaptured after rare youth prison break

 
 
Published12/29/2008 5:23 PM

A combination of county, state and local police joined Illinois Department of Corrections staff in collaring two juveniles Monday afternoon to end a manhunt that began when the pair succeeded in a rare detention center escape.

Officials are withholding the identities of the two young men because they are juveniles. Both were inmates at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles, and escaped late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. St. Charles police said they were called to join the search just before 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Exactly how the two young men broke free is still under investigation, said Januari Smith, a spokeswoman for the corrections department. Area residents should rest assured that the escape does not signal security problems at the facility, she said. "This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this since I've been around," Smith said of the escape. "This is a very, very, very rare occurrence."

 

The escapees had not traveled too far and were nabbed in the Chicago area, Smith said. They are currently being held in a youth facility, though Smith declined to say which one.

The Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles is a medium-security facility, but offenders of all classes of crimes are jailed there. On any given day, the average population of the facility is about 300 inmates. The center is more than 100 years old, but received about $34 million of renovations back in 2003 and 2004. However, it was during that same time that Gov. Rod Blagojevich first proposed the idea of closing the facility. The center remained open, but experienced staffing and budget cuts that sparked protests by the employees last year who said the new staffing and discipline procedures were creating a "deteriorating security situation."

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