Two teens sentenced to the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County were on the run yesterday after escaping from a staff member during a shopping trip outside the juvenile facility.
The teen-agers, who were not identified, were nearing completion of their commitment to Hickey in Cub Hill, said Bob Kannenberg, spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice.
They had been accepted into an apprenticeship program to teach them mechanics and were shopping at the Kmart store at North Plaza Mall in the county for work clothes when they fled about 10:30 a.m., Kannenberg said.
Officials would not say whether the escaped youths, ages 16 and 17, are violent offenders.
Hickey is a state facility run by Youth Services International, a private company that also runs Victor Cullen Academy, a state juvenile facility in Frederick County,
The company and the juvenile justice agency came under strong criticism from legislators last summer after five escapes from Hickey and Victor Cullen and the rape of a staff member at Hickey.
Last month, two teens escaped from Victor Cullen in Sabillasville by rappelling three stories using clothing and bed linens.
The youths were captured by state police several hours later and returned before anybody at the academy realized they were missing. Juvenile justice officials are investigating to see if the problems that led to it were isolated or if continuing security breaches exist.
Hickey houses 355 juvenile offenders.