BATESVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - A juvenile detention center is in desperate need of correctional officers six months after two inmates stabbed three guards in an escape attempt.
It happened at the White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville. Those inmates never made it outside the detention center, but they did injure three guards trying to stop them. The facility's administrator said it's been tough to keep the detention center staffed properly.
"Our motto is talk them down, don't knock them down," said Administrator Peggy Kendrick.
Kendrick said right now 45 juveniles from ages 5 to 21, spend their days at the White River Juvenile Detention Center, all of them there for offenses ranging from petty theft to murder.
"Petty theft. We do have some violent crimes. We have several sex offenders right now, but most of them are all drug related," said Kendrick.
Kendrick added that they hold kids from all over the state, but lately it's getting the officers to stay that's been the problem.
"We had an employee today quit. He said it was due to stress. Juveniles act spontaneously. They don't think about their consequences to their actions. They just act, and then when they are in trouble, they think well maybe I shouldn't have done that," explained Kendrick.
One of those spontaneous acts left three guards injured just six months ago when two inmates tried to escape, stabbing them with cell-made knives. Since 2007, the center has seen 207 correctional officers come and go. Now, Kendrick said they are desperate to fill the positions.
"They didn't want to listen to their parents, and they don't want to listen to us, so it's very stressful. We hold for counties all over the state of Arkansas, and there are other JDCs in the state, so we could go down in juveniles until we could fill the positions," added Kendrick.
It's not a job for everyone, but Kendrick believes it does have benefits including a retirement plan and county employee incentives. She said employees with the right amount of patience and a will to work hard could make all the difference.
"Come on down and give us a shot. I think that if this is the kind of work you want to be in, you could make it a career," concluded Kendrick.
Kendrick said part-time correctional officers start out making $8.32 an hour while full-time officers make $9.69 an hour. She said the county law enforcement committee is looking at raising that pay in order to fill the positions.