- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2011

The last of four D.C. youths who escaped from a private treatment facility in South Carolina on April 20 was arrested without incident Wednesday by task force members who spotted him outside a CVS in Laurel, authorities said.

The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) said Delonte Parker, 19, was taken into custody by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, which includes local agencies in Maryland and Virginia, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Members of the task force suspected Parker was staying at a hotel in the Laurel area and spotted him near Routes 1 and 198, U.S. Marshals spokesman Cole Barnhart said.

It was not immediately clear how Parker traveled from South Carolina to Laurel. A DYRS spokesman declined to say where Parker has been placed.

Parker and three other youths passed guards and hopped over a fence to escape from the Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health Center, a 60-bed facility about 25 miles northwest of Charleston, S.C., that houses male adolescents with sexually aggressive behaviors, substance abuse problems, and psychiatric, behavioral or conduct issues. Three of the youths were found the next morning.

South Carolina legislators introduced a bill Thursday to increase oversight of security and licensing procedures at residential treatment centers for children and adolescents in response to the escape.

The bill requires facilities to notify law enforcement of escapes, prohibits out-of-state clients who are sex offenders, and places a 1,000-foot buffer zone between the treatment centers and any schools, child care facilities, parks, public swimming pools and mass-transportation stops.

Sponsors of the bill said they were unaware that out-of-state youths with violent histories had been placed at the facility.

South Carolina House Rep. Christopher J. Murphy said legislators were under pressure to file the bill and its companion in the state Senate in time for consideration before the legislative session ends in June. They may amend the bill to enhance physical security barriers at facilities and prohibit out-of-state clients.

“We had to get something filed as quickly as possible,” Mr. Murphy said.

The South Carolina incident occurred two days after 18-year-old Treyvon Cortez Carey severely beat a corrections officer to escape from DYRS’ New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel.

Officials say Carey used a ladder to hop the razor-wire fence and drove off in the officer’s car, ditching it near Barry Farm in Southeast. Authorities are still looking for him.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Human Services, which has oversight of DYRS, has called on officials to re-examine the placement of juvenile offenders outside D.C. borders. He cited the escapes and violent incidents involving youths who were released and returned to the District without a support network.

His scrutiny extended to the appointment, effective Thursday, of Steven Baynes as superintendent of New Beginnings.

Mr. Graham said in a press release that “considering the recent, substantial problems at New Beginnings with escapes and assault of a guard, I need to know more about his specific skill set relating to youth offenders and youth violence, and corrections generally.”

Before the press release, the appointment had not been publicly announced, and DYRS officials could not immediately provide any details of Mr. Baynes’ biography or resume.

DYRS spokesman Reggie Sanders said the appointment was not related to the recent escape.

“This was a vacancy we had before all that happened,” he said.

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