More than 70 inmates at a Texas juvenile prison ran from their dorms and climbed into trees or on top of buildings before staff got them all back inside, Texas Youth Commission staff said Tuesday.
No injuries were reported in Monday's night's incident at the Giddings State School in Giddings, the agency said.
The incident started at about 8:30 p.m. when 74 inmates forced open fire exit doors and ran out of their dorms. Some of them climbed trees and others climbed to the roofs of buildings, said TYC spokesman Jim Hurley.
"There were no fights, no injuries. They just ran around like, well, kids," Hurley said.
The Giddings facility currently holds 375 inmates. Giddings police and the Lee County sheriff's office helped secure the perimeter to prevent escapes while TYC staff got the inmates back into their dorms. The final group of students climbed down from the gymnasium roof about 3:15 a.m.
"TYC works with a unique population juvenile offenders. You have to be prepared for offender behavior, but you can also expect juvenile behavior," said Tim Savoy, TYC communication director. "Fortunately, the youth in this situation were not attempting to assault staff or other youth, or cause major property damage."
A usually reliable reader, though, emailed yesterday to say the situation was more serious than that, that the kids had caused significant property damage. I've not confirmed this report with TYC administrators, but this reader says that
On May 6, 2008 48 youth were transferred from the Giddings Unit to the Mart Unit. Additional Giddings youth will be transferred to the Mart Unit to stabilize the Giddings facility. ... Mart 2 was near riot status within the past few days. It is only a matter of time before riots are common place due to staffing shortages.So which was it? As TYC PR man Tim Savoy put it, was this a "disturbance" in which "the youth ... were not attempting to assault staff or other youth, or cause major property damage"? Or was it a "riot" that threatened the safety of staff and students? I'd love to hear opinions of those who were there or have more information or background on the topic.
If those kids are organized enough to pull off a mass exodus from the dorms like that, the agency's darn lucky they didn't appear to have significantly malicious intent. As understaffed as TYC facilities are, if the kids really wanted to they could probably just take over with that kind of coordination!
TYC's Giddings facility is the flagship for the whole agency, so if their staffing problems are leading to mass disruptions, I wouldn't be surprised if other, even more understaffed facilities have similar problems soon. What are folks hearing about this episode?
RELATED: From Children and the Law Blog, Interpreting Ambiguities in Media Coverage of Youth Behavior.