Nineteen juveniles escaped from the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) at Onderneeming, Essequibo Coast, last Wednesday but voluntarily returned to the facility the next day.
The 19 were charged on Monday when they appeared before Magistrate Sunil Scarce at the Charity Magistrate’s Court.
The matters were dealt with in camera and the juveniles were charged with escape from the institution and damage to property. None of the juveniles were represented by an attorney.
The operations of the NOC have been under scrutiny in the wake of previous escapes by inmates, who have alleged abuse and mistreatment at the facility.
In addition, staff members of the NOC have been at the centre of physical and sexual abuse allegations made by girls, who have since been removed from the institution by the Child Care & Protection Agency (CC&PA).
According to the prosecution’s case, the juveniles, who are being held at the correctional institute, escaped on July 30 but returned of their own free will the next day.
They all pleaded guilty and eight were sent back to the institution while the other 11 were taken into police custody.
Five of the teens were also charged with damage to property. The police say that on July 31, the five students damaged six padlocks from the confinement room at NOC.
The padlocks secured the female confinement room where six females were being held at the time. The locks were broken by some male students in an attempt to free the females from the room.
All five pleaded guilty and four of them were sent back to the institution and they were told that they would have to spend a day in the quiet room, while the other male was sentenced to an additional year at NOC. Another six students were charged with damaging a windscreen on an NOC minibus, valued $38,000, on July 30. Four pleaded guilty and two not guilty.
Those who denied the charges were ordered to return to the Suddie Magistrate’s Court on August 7 for the commencement of trial, while the others are also expected to appear before the Magistrate for sentencing on the same date.