Detention center adds barbed wire

September 25, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Scaling the fence at the Eastern Regional Juveniile Detention Center will prove to be a far greater challenge to residents now that two rows of concertina barbed wire have been added.

"It's not razor wire. That's a little more vicious," Director Tom Moreland said Thursday as Division of Corrections employees were putting the finishing touches on the job. The fence, which stands about eight feet high, is now topped with about three more feet of the accordion-like wire studded with tiny steel blades.

Attached to the outside of the fence along the ground is another row of concertina so if a detainee makes it over the fence, he or she would land in more wire.


The wire is mounted on top of the existing strands of barbed wire that proved ineffective in stopping two teenagers from escaping Sept. 15. Those juveniles, a 17-year-old from Martinsburg and a 16-year-old from Romney, W.Va., are still at large.

"The residents can't go near the fence anymore. If they do, it'll be considered an automatic escape attempt," said Moreland, who pointed out a line of metal stakes strung with wire about 10 feet inside the fence. Workers were attaching signs to the wire warning residents not to cross the line.

The concertina wire runs the entire circumference of the exercise yard, including the roofline of the building. In a small courtyard off the residential wing of the building, another row of wire runs along the ground inside the fence.

"It won't do any good for them to kick out the windows because this yard will be surrounded by concertina," Moreland said.

Even with the new wire, Moreland said he expects some residents will tangle with it "just to see if it hurts."

"The wire does cut because it's cut these guys putting it up," he said of the correctional employees. One of them noted that when someone gets caught in the wire, struggling causes them to become more entangled.

"The fact that we had some escapes here may have speeded things up a bit," Moreland said, but he added that increased security was part of the transition of the juvenile center from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

He said lawmakers such as Del. Vicki Douglas, D-Berkeley, were "very, very involved in trying to get this transition accomplished." Concertina wire has just been put up at another juvenile facility in Princeton, W.Va., he said.

In addition to the escapes this month, there was another double escape in July when Miguel Quinones, 19, overpowered two guards and fled with Adam Rozas, 17, of Charles Town.

Quinones, who was awaiting trial on a Fayette County murder charge, is still at large. Rozas was captured in August in Jefferson County.

The Herald-Mail Articles