The Indianapolis company that runs the Juvenile Justice Center may reimburse the city for a undetermined amount of money after the metro police department incurred costs of $253,000 to catch four escaped young offenders.
Four employees of Youth Enterprise Investment were terminated – with three now facing criminal charges – for mistakes made that allowed the four juveniles to escape on November 30, 2019.
During a meeting of the public safety committee, the city’s legal department confirmed they are exploring asking Youth Opportunity Investment to refund some of the expenses.
Jim Hill, president of Youth Opportunity Investment, told News4 Investigates he is unaware what amount they could pay.
“Do you feel like you owe the city to pay some money back because of these mistakes?” asked News4 Investigates.
“I believe the costs are rectified and resolved - and that's what both sides believe – absolutely,” Hill said.
Hill repeatedly offered his apologies to the committee, along with Judge Shelia Calloway, who ultimately oversees the center.
Hill said in all his career, he has never experienced a perfect storm of mistakes like this.
A series of reports by News4 Investigates exposed the litany of errors made by staff that allowed the teens to escape, including failing to call 911 for more than a half hour and allowing the four to be on a cleaning crew, despite the fact that three of the teens didn’t qualify to be out of their cells because of low behavior scores.
“This was not Shawshank Redemption. This was pretty mind boggling that this sequence of events was allowed to occur,” said councilman Dave Rosenberg.
“What responsibility do you take for the training of these individuals who now face criminal charges?” asked News4 Investigates.
“They were properly trained but unfortunately they made a poor decision, but I know they have them the training they needed,” Hill said.
Hill told councilmembers that they are making steps to offer higher pay to entice more qualified workers and have retrained employees on their policies.
“It’s going to take more than what I heard today to give me the warm fuzzies that we have this issue under control,” said councilman Russ Pulley.
Council members also heard how discrepancies existed in Youth Opportunity Investment's internal policy and their contract witth the city, including that the company allows employees to go after escaped offenders, but the contract does not.