Department of Corrections auditing Wilder Youth Development Center’s security protocols

FAYETTE COUNTY, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Corrections started auditing the Wilder Youth Development Center’s security protocols on Wednesday night.

This comes two days after two 18-year-olds and two juveniles tried to escape. Last week, three other teenagers managed to escape.

The state plans to hire more security officers, get feedback from TDOT, and improve its security cameras at the facility.

RELATED: Officials question increase in incidents at Wilder Youth Development Center

Still, Fayette County Mayor Skip Taylor argues these changes are long overdue.

”With the disturbances at the facility itself, with the escapees, it’s just another layer of things we don’t need,” said Mayor Taylor.

Mayor Taylor said the Wilder Youth Development Center needs serious improvements. He believes escapes are happening because there is not enough staff.

Mayor Taylor said currently, the facility needs to fill about 10 positions.

According to the State Comptrollers audit in December of 2020, the facility had staffing issues last year. The report said the facility did not maintain complete staffing documentation and did not comply with staffing standards. The audit said the center did not complete a staffing plan assessment and may not have properly assessed the number of staff needed at the Wilder Youth Development Center.

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6 teens attempt to escape youth development after 3 escaped less than a week ago, sheriff says

FOX13 asked a spokesperson with the Department of Child Services how many officers are inside the facility. The spokesperson said we’d get an answer Thursday.

On Wednesday afternoon, FOX13 did get the DCS Commissioner’s plans to improve security like adding private security guards to patrol the campus, allowing TDOC to evaluate security protocols, hiring more staff at the facility, and other changes.

Mayor Taylor said this needs to get fixed sooner rather than later.

“This isn’t something that can wait. I don’t feel like it can wait until the next legislative session to start. They need to start moving it now,” said Taylor.

Mayor Taylor said another idea is to move more dangerous kids out of the facility and keep low-level offenders inside instead.

Meanwhile, DCS said it’s continuing to implement new changes.