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Indianapolis juvenile center roiled by violence, tension

– The Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Indianapolis has restricted movements in some of its boys’ living area after several recent violent incidents that have left at least 10 staff members injured since Thanksgiving.

The center restricted movements in three of its five boys’ living areas to avoid altercations among rival factions, the Indianapolis Star reported Monday.

The restrictions were prompted in part by the Dec. 14 shooting death of a 15-year-old youth, Anthoney Warren, on the city’s west side. He had been released Dec. 5 after spending much of the year in the detention center for parole violations. A 19-year-old man has been arrested on preliminary charges of murder and robbery in connection with the slaying, police said.

“I know a lot of kids knew him and were upset about it,” Superintendent Charles Parkins said.

The center, which holds about 85 boys and girls ages 7 to 17, has experienced “an increased number of offenses” by juveniles in the past month, said Parkins, who blamed most of the incidents on two youths who have since been sent to other locations.

“We moved them, and it’s relatively quiet now,” he said.

Last week, a 16-year-old robbery suspect “head-butted” a Marion County sheriff’s deputy who was moving him out of the detention center. The deputies were moving the boy to the Indiana Department of Correction’s Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility because he had punched and tried to bite a detention center staff member days earlier.

Juvenile Court Chief Magistrate Gary Chavers said it’s unusual for detainees to be so disruptive. The center often can go three months without a violent incident.

“I don’t think we had to send a kid away like that in three years,” Chavers said.

A large number of homicides among Indianapolis youths likely has contributed to resentment and tension in detention, Chavers said. Anthoney was the 16th teenager slain this year.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reports show 10 staff members at the center were injured in fights with youths between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2. Parkins said none of the injuries was considered serious or required hospitalization.

“They were sprains, jammed fingers, the kind of injuries you get if someone is swinging or thrashing wildly,” he said.

Parkins said tensions, and depression, among the juveniles always run high during the holidays.

During Thanksgiving, only 14 of the incarcerated youths had visitors.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Moores said. “Some of these kids can go their whole time in detention without one visitor.”

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