‘Extraordinary escape’ | More details emerge on teen’s escape from Henley-Young

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More details are emerging about the escape that occurred recently at the Henley-Young Patton Juvenile Justice Center.

Tuesday evening, authorities reported that Rondarius Ragsdale escaped from the facility located on McDowell Road in Jackson.

Hinds County Administrator Kenny Wayne Jones, who oversees the center, commended the sheriff and law enforcement for their response and said the county is taking steps to prevent another escape from occurring.

“I don’t know if they’ve released the investigative tapes yet. Once you get a chance to see the tapes, you’ll see how extraordinary his escape was,” Jones said. “You have to have some serious athleticism to do that.”

Sources tell WLBT that the 17-year-old was able to scale a wall and then run across Henley-Young’s roof to get out.

"Andrew Matthews"
"Andrew Matthews"(Hinds County Sheriff's Office)

The teen was playing basketball and was under direct supervision of Henley-Younger staffers at the time of the incident.

“We had everything we were supposed to have in place. Everything that got us off the consent decree, we had all that in place,” Jones said. “Even though it’s isolated, it’s still an incident that has to be looked at.”

The county was previously under a 2016 consent decree and 2020 stipulated order designed to address living conditions at the Hinds County Detention Center, Henley-Young, and other county-operated detention facilities.

A judge recently scaled back that order following a hearing in U.S. District Court.

Jones said the escape took about two minutes, and that the teen likely planned it.

“He knew exactly what moves he was going to make, where he was going to go and how he was going to do it,” he said. “The only way you would have stopped him would have been a clear shot... But that’s not what we want to do. We maintain the safety of our juvenile offenders.”

Jones said Tuesday’s escape was the first situation like this to occur at Henley-Young in 15 years.

“From an administrative standpoint, it gave us the opportunity to look at some of the things we had to do... The footage of the barbed wire has to be increased, because the barbed wire that was there, this particular individual jumped over,” Jones explained.

“So, this morning... we called in vendors so we could get that fixed... We’ve done a whole lot of things since yesterday, going back, retroactively, just kind of looking at what happened.”

The incident occurred around 8 p.m.

The sheriff’s department was notified immediately, and a perimeter was set up in about 10 to 15 minutes. Exact boundaries of the perimeter were not known.

“Once they did the Orange Alert, the sheriff was right there. Sheriff (Tyree) Jones set up a perimeter (and) called in additional law enforcement... So, we knew that he would be caught in 24 hours,” he said.

Several law enforcement agencies helped in the search. At the same time, Byram Police were looking for a suspect in the area as well, Jones said.

Ragsdale was eventually apprehended Wednesday afternoon at a home in North Jackson, about 21 hours after he was reported escaped.

Prior to breaking out, the teen had only been at the facility for a short time and was listed under the name “Andrew Matthews.”

“He was a new offender. With him not being there long, we had to go back and find out who he really was. And we did that. We looked at everything we had to look at,” Jones said. “He, of course, said he didn’t remember his Social Security number. So, we had to go through the process of finding out exactly who the individual was.”

He said it is not uncommon for detainees to give the wrong names once they’re booked, and that the information is typically corrected once the verification process is complete.

“The biggest thing is to get them in the center, locked down, and safe,” Jones explained. “If you know who it is, and you already have information on who you have, that’s one thing. But when you get somebody who has no I.D. on them, you have to run it through the system to find out who you actually have.”

“Our systems are pretty expeditous on that,” he said.

Ragsdale is now back at Henley-Young, and likely will face additional charges and a loss of privileges due to the escape.

“Just like anything else, once we bring you back, you’re going to get some time added to your sentence... You’re a flight risk, so you won’t be able to do certain things that other offenders are able to do,” Jones said. “He’s gonna be on restriction on eating. He’s gonna be on restriction on having his few minutes outside... all of that.”

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