Neighbors upset after two separate escapes from detention center and no notification

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BRYANT, Ark. – Some neighbors in Bryant are upset after they say they were not notified after two escapes from a juvenile detention center.

“Somebody’s dropped the ball somewhere,” says neighbor Sara Howard

Howard says she did not receive the notification, which is usually sent by phone, after it happened at the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center.

The first escape happened Sunday.

Keton McGee, 14, jumped the facility’s fence and has still not been found.

“I think more could have been done. I think they should have had more workers because he’s a kid… who can catch him,” says McGee’s mother, Tiffany Petton.

Howard says the teen would have likely been found if the notification system was working properly.

“Within probably five minutes after he left because a neighbor — he was standing in their yard,” says Howard.

Wednesday night, Bryant Police say six juveniles tried escaping but only three were successful when officials say they ‘made it to the fence and were able to pull up one section and crawl under and away’.

The juveniles were caught nearly two hours later.

Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) officials say they’re looking into the matter.

“We are having staff reach out to neighbors who say they didn’t get notified. We know that over 100 people did get notice but we are looking into why others didn’t,” says DHS Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer Amy Webb.

Webb says people can call DHS and sign up for notifications.

DHS officials say they have asked Rites of Passage, which runs the facility for a plan of correction.

The state says it’s reviewing both the incident and the fenced area involved in the latest escape to determine what repairs or additional security features need to be completed.

Howard says when she called the state, they explained what happened.

“There [was] a glitch in their system,” says Howard.

Bryant Police say they have responded to several escapes from the facility.

In 2015, one juvenile escaped. In 2017, two juveniles escaped, however one was caught immediately because he got caught up in the razor wire. Police say last year, the facility thought two juveniles escaped but they were later found hiding inside the fence.

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