Three juvenile offenders who escaped from the District of Columbia's Oak Hill/Forest Haven youth detention complex near Laurel yesterday afternoon were recaptured within two hours, U.S. Park Police said, though another remained at large.
It is unclear why the youths, whom Park Police said were from Oak Hill, the maximum-security part of the facility, were able to walk away from Forest Haven, which is minimum-security.
U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., criticized district officials for not acting in accordance with an early warning agreement to notify community officials about escapes. "The district has once again failed to uphold its end of the bargain," he said. "This has got to stop."
Officials at Oak Hill refused to comment yesterday. The district's Department of Human Services, which runs the complex, did not return phone calls.
Lt. Richard A. Munsky of the U.S. Park Police said two 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds apparently left a cottage at Forest Haven around 12:30 p.m. yesterday. Park police were notified about 10 minutes later. A Maryland State Police canine unit also joined in the search, along with Laurel City police.
About two hours later, two 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old were found in the parking lot of the Hechinger store at Routes 197 and 198 in Laurel.
The other 17-year-old remained at large yesterday afternoon. Park police would not release his description or the charges on which he was being held.
District officials have said Forest Haven is used to house a pre-release program for 20 boys who are deemed ready to return to the community, as well as 20 girls charged with nonviolent offenses.