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Four D.C. teens escape from S.C. juvenile facility; three caught

- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three of the four D.C. teens who escaped from a South Carolina juvenile facility have been recaptured, city officials said Thursday.

The escape occurred at about 6:12 p.m. Wednesday at the Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health Center, a 60-bed, secure placement facility in Summerville, S.C. No injuries to the staff or other facility residents were reported.

Officials at a morning news conference offered few details about the escape, which prompted a multistate search that included the South Carolina State Police, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General.

"I think we're in pretty good shape and we're definitely going to find the young man who left the premises," interim DYRS Director Neil Stanley said.

The Washington Times confirmed with South Carolina authorities that the juveniles who escaped were Delante Parker, 19; Brandon Sparrow, 18; Christopher Griffin, 17; and Jaboni Cruz, 17.

Sources in the District with knowledge of the situation told The Times that Parker was the youth still at large. One source described him as a "serious offender."

Details of his juvenile record were not readily available, but a D.C. Superior Court records indicate Parker was arrested in 2008 for fleeing a police officer in the area of 17th and Euclid streets in Northwest. He was driving a Mercedes at the time with Virginia tags on the back and Maryland tags on the front.

He failed to complete a diversion program and was sentenced to seven days in jail. He was later found guilty on a charge of tampering with a monitoring device.

In March, Parker was ordered detained to a Pennsylvania residential treatment center for 90 days. It was unclear from the court papers what precipitated his transfer to South Carolina.

Palmetto Summerville is an out-of-state placement facility for D.C. Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The facility is a contract services provider for the District that offers in-treatment programs for adolescent males with sexually aggressive behaviors, substance abuse problems and psychiatric, behavioral or conduct issues.

"DYRS is responsible for more than 1,000 young people, over 200 in residential treatment centers in other states," D.C. Council member Jim Graham said Thursday. "This recent breakout is another example of why we need to thoroughly examine the practices and decision making processes of this agency in regards to the placement of our juvenile offenders."

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