Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018
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Four boys escape Simpson Penn

Frankie Campbell.

Nearly two months after 13 inmates escaped Simpson Penn Centre for Boys in Fox Hill, another four inmates escaped that facility on Friday night, said Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell yesterday.

“On Friday evening, sometime around 8 p.m., a group of the residents at the Simpson Penn school for boys [was] under a pavilion that is there for them, watching television, under the supervision of two of the staff members there, when one staff member would have left to go and use the restroom,” Campbell told reporters outside Cabinet.

“On returning, it was discovered that one boy was missing.

“Further checks revealed that four boys were missing.

“Since then, one boy was returned by parents or guardians. And so, at this time, three of those boys are at large, along with one boy from the previous escape, when 13 of them escaped.

“So I am appealing to members of the public who know who they are, family members, who know who they are, to assist us in returning those boys to the school.

“It is an offense to harbor the boys.

“In addition to that, we have been mandated by various courts to have them there. And so, in keeping with that, we are asking assistance to have them returned.”

Campbell said someone will have to give an account as to how the boys managed to escape while they were supposed to be supervised.

“The reports haven’t reached me officially as yet, but obviously it’s not the same method that was used the last time,” he said.

“They were not in a cell or in a room or dormitory. They were out under a pavilion that’s open.

“They were being supervised, and somebody is going to have to give an account; but in the meantime, while that is being sorted out, we want to have those boys safely returned.”

There have been several escapes from the facility over the years.

In 2011, five boys escaped. At the time, then Acting Superintendent Whitfield Nealy said the boys simply walked out of the center.

In 2012, seven boys ran away from the facility.

There are 32 boys at the facility.

The boys are at the center by order of the court, because they were convicted of a crime or for other reasons.

Asked yesterday whether consideration is being given to beefing up security at the facility, Campbell said, “What we did since the last escape, we made some corrections with the building, the physical plan.

“This time I don’t think it had anything to do with the physical building itself, because they were outside under a pavilion being supervised.

“So this seems to be a procedural issue, which is going to be reviewed.”

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