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Teenage murder suspect escapes jail for the second time in 2 weeks in Louisiana

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Two teenagers accused of murder escaped over the weekend from a youth jail in Louisiana, less than two weeks after one of them fled the same jail for the first time earlier in November, police said.

Both murder suspects, who are 17 years old, escaped late on Saturday night from the East Baton Rouge Juvenile Detention Center. Exactly how they managed to escape was not immediately clear, but officials said in a news release that they were investigating how the escape occurred. Baton Rouge police and the U.S. Marshals Service have launched a search.

The Baton Rouge Police Department has identified the escaped teens as David Atkins and Willie Jackson, CBS affiliate WAFB-TV reported. Jackson was being held at the jail on a first-degree murder charge through the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, according to the news station.  Atkins, who was being held on a first-degree murder charge through Baton Rouge police, previously escaped from the juvenile detention center on Nov. 13. Atkins and another detainee fled as guards were putting prisoners back in their cells after a fight broke out in the facility, The Advocate reported. They were apprehended after a search that lasted more than 24 hours.

Atkins and Jackson are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached, WAFB reported, citing the Baton Rouge Police Department. Authorities have asked anyone with information about their whereabouts to contact the Capital Region Crime Stoppers by calling 225-344-7867, or by calling 911.

"We want the public to be cautious as they may have changed their hairstyles. We are encouraging those that may see them that may know their whereabouts or may actually be out and about just witness these individuals out in the community to not hesitate to call 911 or Crime Stoppers," said Cpl. Saundra Watts, a spokesperson for the Baton Rouge police, according to WAFB.

The East Baton Rouge juvenile facility has been the target of criticism because of repeated escapes and violent episodes, according to multiple local outlets, including The Advocate and WAFB.

"If we do not get down to figure out a way to get this done, we're going to continue to have more escapes that we ever have. Now we're dealing with juveniles that are extremely violent. We're talking about first degree murder, this is just unacceptable," Hillar Moore, the East Baton Rouge District Attorney, told WAFB on Sunday.

In 2021, five prisoners escaped after attacking a staffer, taking her keys and locking her inside a cell without a radio. Some of them also attacked staffers with makeshift knives. In February 2022, a fight involving eight teens left three of them injured.

East Baton Rouge Parish set aside $2 million for security upgrades. After the escape in earlier November, parish officials said those upgrades were still in the planning and design phase.

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