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Echo Glen Detention Center, Teens with Violent Criminal Histories Prompt Security Questions

29 Nov 2023, Jail News, by

Echo Glen detention center faces scrutiny after the escape of teens with violent criminal pasts, prompting questions about safety measures.

Echo Glen Detention Center, Teens with Violent Criminal Histories Prompt Security Questions - Inmate Lookup

The King County Sheriff’s Office reported that all three teenagers who escaped from the Echo Glen detention center were found within hours of the initial search after 6 p.m. Sunday night. All three escapees have violent criminal records.

The court determined probable cause for first-degree escape, so they were imprisoned at the King County Children and Family Justice Center. The escapees’ names were withheld pending adult court proceedings because all three are minors.

The 16-year-old male juvenile is in prison for killing two Renton residents in separate shooting incidents. The two killings occurred when he was 14. In October 2021, the boy shot and murdered a 22-year-old man outside a Safeway, according to King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filings. He shot and killed a 54-year-old guy outside Circle Food a few months later. Investigators think the teen mistook the victims for strangers and shot them after a brief confrontation.

Two more accused escapees, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, participated in the Echo Glen prison riots. The 16-year-old murderer was one of five inmates who tried to escape through the courtyard last August. Court filings state that “it was clear the juveniles had gained access to the courtyard without permission and were not listening to law enforcement or Echo Glen staff.

According to a staff member’s 911 call, the teenagers made an attempt to scale the facility’s perimeter fence in an effort to flee. At a certain juncture, the staff suspected one of the juveniles to be “AWOL.” In their efforts to regain control, deputies were warned, as per court records, that any attempt to enter the courtyard would result in potential stabbing. The disturbance, characterized as a riot, resulted in estimated damages ranging between $175,000 and $200,000, as reported by officials.

The 17-year-old was accused of rioting at Echo Glen in April with another gang. In that incident’s probable cause statement, convicts “had taken their shirts off and were talking about fighting and killing the officers on scene,” tossing objects. The 17-year-old teenager kicked a Snoqualmie police sergeant and spit on a King County deputy as police subdued the group, court records show. A source at Echo Glen told a news entity that the adolescent is dangerous and assaults personnel.

Echo Glen Children’s Center has had staffing and security issues since 1967. Most youths were arrested promptly and peacefully. Echo Glen workers reported in 2018 that the institution was understaffed, yet complaints are mounting. Sources told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH on condition of anonymity that Echo Glen employees are routinely abused, sometimes to the point of hospitalization, in June. They say minors are emboldened by insufficient penalties for their actions.

As per the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF), the entity overseeing Echo Glen, the medium/maximum security facility situated in Snoqualmie, is described on their website as not being enclosed by a fence but instead surrounded by natural wetlands. The department emphasizes its design as a “therapeutic environment for young people,” with the overarching goal of facilitating a safe return to their respective communities.

The fourth escape in two years occurred Sunday, six months after seven youths stormed out of the facility, ambushing a staff member and seizing her car, authorities said. After a regional manhunt, the inmates were found within 36 hours of the May 28 incident. Eagle Point, Aster Creek, and Deer Park neighbors near Echo Glen were able to opt-in to Alert King County notifications regarding escaped minors shortly after.

After another high-profile breakout of five youths in January 2022, DCYF officials declared a “number of security changes” before these new occurrences. Reported enhancements included a key-card-controlled, video-activated gate, increased staff training, and a deep-dive security audit.

The agency stated that ongoing reviews and administrative investigations are in progress, with anticipated outcomes leading to additional recommendations as well as changes in policies and procedures.