Changes are coming to the state's juvenile detention centers after 32 teenagers busted out of the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville, triggering a massive police manhunt and criticism from the community.
Seven of the teens remained at large Tuesday, with 25 back in custody.
Officials with the Department of Children's Services launched an internal investigation into the escape to identify weaknesses that need to be addressed, although they said it was too soon to announce any policy changes.
Previous: Mass escape from Tenn. detention center
"We're going to have to do better," DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said Tuesday.
Johnson said "rumblings of trouble" began around 11 p.m. Monday, when teens began congregating in dorm common areas. They busted out of the dorm buildings by kicking through aluminum panels beneath windows.
Once outside, dozens of youths escaped custody by crawling under a weak spot in the perimeter chain-link fence. Staffers, who had been trying to convince the teens to return to their rooms, were not aware of the escape until around 12:39 a.m., when they notified police.
"The escaped persons had a pretty good lead time on us," said Don Aaron, spokesman for Metro police. "Anytime a crime is committed or an escape occurs, the quicker the notification to law enforcement, the quicker resources can be deployed to minimize the situation."
Officers quickly found several of the teens walking along Briley Parkway near Woodland Hills, which is just off of Ashland City Highway on Stewarts Lane. Some were found Tuesday morning, and family members returned others to authorities.
Attorney Everette Parrish, who was appointed to represent the civil rights of youth at Woodland Hills, called the escape "an abysmal failure of policy and procedure."
"The whole thing that happened (Tuesday) is a function of the guards," Parrish said. "There should be more training, better training and more people in the pipeline."
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, DCS Commissioner Jim Henry said it was unclear if any Woodland Hills staffers would face disciplinary actions as a result of the escape.
"There's nothing that I know, right now, that told me that anyone did anything wrong," he said.
Improvements began Tuesday at Woodland Hills to prevent future breakouts, Henry said.
Repairs to the fencing were set to be done by sundown. The metal panels under dorm windows were replaced and wire netting was added.
Henry said more details about policy changes might come as soon as Wednesday.
Johnson said 78 boys were at the facility Monday before the breakout, well below the facility's 132-bed capacity. Sixteen staffers were there at 11.
"Most of the kids have at least three felonies," Johnson said.
The escapees were boys between 14 and 18 years old who were brought to Nashville from across the state.
All but one of the remaining seven hail from Middle Tennessee. Their convictions range from drug possession to aggravated robbery. Two of them have previous convictions for handgun possession, according to DCS.
"They could be dangerous," Johnson said.
Johnson urged anyone who sees one of the escapees to contact police.
Monday's escape marks the second attempt at Woodland Hills this year. Half a dozen teens at Woodland Hills broke out of their rooms and into the courtyard in May.
In that case, staffers and caseworkers convinced the teens to return inside.
The escape comes just a week after the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth issued a report critical of conditions at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in East Tennessee following two suicides there in three weeks. Mountain View's director of security and two security guards were fired.
Reach Adam Tamburin at 615-726-5986 and on Twitter @tamburintweets.