MADISON, AL (WAFF) - After two teens escaped from Three Springs juvenile facility and allegedly killed a man, the city of Madison has been on edge.
At Monday night's Madison City Council meeting, the floor was open for public comment. Residents had plenty to say. So did Tracy Jones, a former employee of Three Springs.
"One time when I was there, we had five kids in one day run from DHR," she said.
Jones recounted several of her negative experiences from her eight years of working for Three Springs. She told the council that administrators told her to keep quiet about certain things that happened inside the facility.
"Now I can speak out. I'm going to speak out on behalf of Von Johnson because he can't speak now. And it's sad," Jones said.
Jones told WAFF 48 News she wasn't planning to walk up to the podium but felt compelled to. She said it was in honor of the murder victim.
"I had to speak out. Who's to say it won't happen again? And how many more next time?" she said.
Jones said the facility is declining and doesn't belong in Madison.
"The kids have more say than the staff. There's no structure, no discipline," she said.
WAFF 48 News asked her what she hopes comes from Monday night's public meeting.
"In all honesty, knowing what I know and the experiences I've experienced there, I hope they shut this place down," Jones said.
Right now, Mayor Paul Finley said the city doesn't have the ability to shut it down. The city's legal counsel said at the next council meeting, they will work to amend the city ordnance so they can allow the city to revoke business licenses due to public safety concerns. As of now, Finley said police are in constant contact with Three Springs, and safety features have been added since the escapee incident in early August.
The mayor has also begun asking people to be on a board overseeing Three Springs. Finley and the police chief will be on that board, as well as some Madison residents.
Lastly, effective immediately, there is no difference between runaways and escapees from Three Springs. All people who leave Three Springs will be considered escapees, and Nixle alerts will be sent out as soon as law enforcement learns of any future incidents.
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